Do you know how healthy your brain is?


Anthony Robledo

A photograph of two erasers, shaped as brains, on a rail.

Anthony Robledo, Staff Writer

Try counting backward from the number 200, but instead of counting number by number, subtract 7. Try it out. If you tried this and going down to 158 was challenging for you, then you just exercised your brain.

The brain is not a muscle but an organ. Despite this, the brain can be exercised just like any other muscle. People don’t give enough attention to how important their brain actually is. Everyone is aware of the function of the brain but would be surprised to know how important and beneficial it is to keep the brain in a strong condition.

Like going to the gym to buff up, people should make an effort to keep their minds engaged and challenged. Through constant mental exercises, you can keep your brain in good condition allowing yourself to improve your focus, develop critical thinking skills, and delay brain declines in the future.

In high school, every class calls upon students’ ability to exercise their brain by obtaining new knowledge and practicing new skills that a subject demands. In English, students are taught how to process information from text and think critically to express ideas of their own. In math, students are taught to solve problems using their brain to improve logical and reasoning skills. Unfortunately, there is a problem with students not thinking enough for them to truly grow as students and people. This problem can be directly explained by lack of interest in certain classes. Many students find themselves completing school work without exercising the brain and solely to earn points for their grade. Even for students who constantly challenge their minds through education, there is more they can do to keep their brain in high condition.

Students are mistaken if they feel that exercising their brain is not needed. Brain growth development is very serious during the teenage years as there is a massive loss of brain tissue that occurs. Brain growth doesn’t stop developing until the mid-20s, making it very important to take advantage of this time to improve thinking, meaning that trying to get out of work that requires a lot of thinking can be very damaging. Although finding a shortcut or giving effortless work can be quick and easy, these temptations should be avoided.

Senior Selina Saleh said, “It is essential for younger students to learn because it’s easier to grasp concepts now than at an older age. Constantly exercising your brain will keep the routine of learning and grasping information faster. Also, the more you know, the more informed you will be going into the real world.”

Mrs. Silverstein said, “I think we’ve created a culture where things that are hard are fought, and not fought with the goal of succeeding but with the goal of surviving. So students view things that are hard as a battle to survive rather than a challenge to be overcome. I think because they view them as something that is devastating rather than something exciting to tackle, they try to avoid things that are really challenging.”

Classes are not just about learning a bunch of facts to pass an exam only to lose the information after a final. By learning how to think like scholars, students will be better prepared to make wiser decisions and handle situations that college, career, and civilian life entails. During teenage years, the brain is still constantly growing and expanding different mental capabilities. It’s not a good idea to limit your thinking potential just to complete the bare minimum of a task.

Mrs. Silverstein said, “I suppose it’s important to exercise your brain because things in life aren’t always easy and if you’re expecting them to be then you’re going to face a harsh reality when you come up against challenges that require you to think deeply, critically, or creatively and you’ve spent your life doing the bare minimum. You have to be able to push yourself to meet the challenges you can’t see yet.”

This mentality goes beyond school as well. Everyday our minds make decisions and handle situations that can lead to drastic effects. Maintaining a high condition for the brain will improve the quality of every decision we make in our lives. Also, by exercising the brain, people can prevent psychological issues that can be very damaging. The stronger the brain is operating, the more preventable issues like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease will be. Studies have shown that people whose careers require a lot of mental thinking are less likely to receive psychological disorders than those who don’t.

A healthy brain can increase overall happiness as it can improve concentration, memory, and stress management. Beyond this, keeping the brain in good condition can make people more ambitious and driven in terms of their future goals.

These exercises consist of meditation, showering with your eyes closed, and playing brain teasers online. Finding exercises online or downloading brain exercising apps can little by little improve the efficiency of a students thinking. Lumosity and Elevate are both available for free on the app store and provide games that can help people keep their mind in sharp shape. Another interesting way to incorporate brain exercises into a daily routine is by creating little challenges for yourself and overcome these. This could even be by brushing your teeth with the hand opposed to the one you’re traditionally accustomed too. Even learning how to write with the opposite hand is considered a brain exercise although it’s significantly less practical.

Physical exercise is also another way to improve neuron creation in the brain. By doing mental exercises, people can influence how new neurons are used. Participating in both physical and mental exercises are valuable uses of time as growing strong as a thinker also creates a strong sense of accomplishment as is losing a certain amount of weight. Other mental exercises consist of learning a new language, learning to play a new instrument, and making new social connections. Beyond exercise, you can help your brain by eating healthy meals, and receiving a proper amount of sleep every night.

Most high schoolers can benefit from mental exercises to handle school work through stress management and enable them to become better prepared for college. Students are already faced with many responsibilities that finding the time to exercise their brain outside of school work seems un-doable or unnecessary. Students should find time to work on their brain so they can benefit in both the short and long run.