Brain gym exercises to improve Memory and Focus in Children and Adults!

Brain gym exercises are a series of simple exercises that boost brain function. Though they were initially designed for kids, these exercises have proven to be effective for adults as well.

Studies show that regular physical exercise reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and respiratory disease and acts as an antidepressant

Before we get to the exercises, let’s understand the benefits of brain gym exercises.

Why Are Brain Gym Exercises Good?

  1. They make you smarter and sharper.
  2. They boost your confidence levels.
  3. They improve your self-esteem.
  4. They revitalize your natural healing mechanisms.
  5. They restore health and harmony.
  6. They help improve eyesight.
  7. They increase creativity and communication skills.
  8. They give you a boost when you face disappointment or rejection.

Now, let’s begin with the brain gym activities.

15 Brain Gym Exercises

1. Marching In Place

This is a great way to warm up your muscles.

How to March in Place

  1. Stand straight with your legs hip-width apart, shoulders rolled back, chest up, and look ahead.
  2. Lift your right leg off the floor and bend your right knee slightly. Place your right leg softly on the floor.
  3. Lift your left leg off the floor and bend your left knee slightly. Place your left leg softly on the floor.
  4. Do this 30 times. You can use a chair as support if you find it difficult to march without support. 

2. Cross Crawl

This exercise is a good start to improve the coordination between the right and left brain and your body.

How To Do Cross Crawl Exercise

  1. Stand straight with your legs hip-width apart, shoulders rolled back, and chest up. Look ahead.
  2. Lift your right hand above your head. This is your starting position.
  3. Lift your left leg off the floor, and bend your left knee. Simultaneously, bend your right elbow and try to touch the left knee with your right elbow.
  4. Get back to the starting position. Do the same with your left hand and right leg.
  5. Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

3. Ankle Touch

This is similar to the previous exercise. The standing alternate ankle touch brain gym exercise helps improve balance and coordination between the left and right limbs. 

How To Do Ankle Touches

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, hands laterally up, and elbows slightly bent.
  2. Lift your right foot off the floor and touch your right ankle with your left hand.
  3. Place your right foot on the floor and lift the left foot off the floor.
  4. Try to touch your left ankle with your right hand.
  5. Do 15-20 reps.

4. Ankle Touch Behind Your Body

This is another variation of the ankle touch and is an effective way to improve balance. 

How To Touch Ankle Behind Your Body

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, hands laterally up, and elbows slightly bent.
  2. Lift your right foot off the floor. Try to touch your right ankle with your left hand behind your body. You may bend a little to the side.
  3. Place your right foot on the floor and lift the left foot off it.
  4. Try to touch your left ankle with your right hand behind your body.
  5. Do 15-20 reps.

5. Step Touch

This is a simple brain gym activity. It is also known as the dancer’s warm-up and is great for lateral or side-to-side movement coordination. 

How To Do Step Touches

  1. Stand with your legs close together.
  2. Take a step toward your right with your right leg.
  3. Place your left foot right next to your right leg.
  4. Take a step toward your left with your left leg.
  5. Place your right foot next to your left leg.
  6. Do this 30 times at a slow to moderate pace.

6. Neck Circles

This is a good exercise for neck muscle and head movement coordination.

How To Do Neck Circles

  1. Stand or sit on a chair. Roll your shoulders back and close your eyes.
  2. Lower your head and tilt it to the right side.
  3. Roll your neck from the right to the back, from the back to the left, and then down in the centre. This completes one neck circle.
  4. Do 10 of these before doing the same on the left side.

7.  Cook’s Hook-Up

This exercise helps calm the nerves and improve hand and brain coordination.

How To Do Cook’s Hook-Up

  1. Sit straight in a chair. Cross your right ankle over your left ankle.
  2. Extend your hands in front of you. Cross the right hand over your left hand and link the fingers.
  3. Twist the forearms internally and form a hook, as shown in the image. Take 6 deep breaths.
  4. Release the hook and join your fingertips. Take 6 deep breaths.
  5. Do this 3-5 times.

8. Brain Button

The brain button exercise helps improve the flow of electromagnetic energy. This exercise helps relax the eyes, shoulder, and neck and promotes body balance.

How To Do Brain Button Exercise

  1. Place your left palm on your belly.
  2. Place the thumb and index finger of your right hand an inch below your collarbone. Move the fingers in a circular motion.
  3. Do this 10 times.
  4. Place your right palm on your belly, left fingers an inch below the collarbone, and massage in a circular motion 10 times.

9. Lazy Eights

Lazy eights is an exercise in which you trace the number eight with your finger and follow your finger with your eye. It helps improve eye muscle movement and coordination. 

How To Do Lazy Eights

  1. Stand or sit. Extend your right hand in front of you.
  2. Move your hand to trace a horizontal “8” or an infinity symbol.
  3. Move your eyes along with your hand. Do this 3 times.
  4. Repeat with the other hand.

10. The Elephant

This is similar to Lazy Eights exercise but with a slight difference in the angle of the eye movement. This exercise also improves hand to eye coordination.

How To Do The Elephant Brain Gym

  1. Stand straight. Keep your knees soft and extend your right hand in front of you.
  2. Place your head on your right upper arm.
  3. Trace a horizontal “8” or infinity symbol.
  4. Move your eyes along with your hand. Do this 3 times.
  5. Repeat with the other hand.

11. The Energy Yawn

This exercise helps release tension in the jaw and relaxes the eyes. 

How To Do Energy Yawn Brain Gym

  1. Place the index and middle finger of each hand on a jaw joint.
  2. Open your mouth and start massaging the jaw joints in a circular motion. Do this 5 times.
  3. Close your mouth and massage 5 times.
  4. Do this 10 times.

12. The Thinking Cap

The thinking cap is an effective exercise for kids and adults for improving learning speed and mood, increasing attention span, and boosting memory.

How To Do Thinking Cap Brain Gym

  1. Sit on a chair. Place your index finger and thumb on your ear.
  2. Massage the top of the ear and gradually come down to the auricle.
  3. Massage back up to the top of your ear. Do this slowly 15 times.

13. Belly Breathing

This exercise helps increase oxygen supply in the body, which, in turn, helps you relax and improves reading and speaking abilities.

How To Do Belly Breathing

1.   Stand or sit. Place your right hand on your tummy and left hand on your chest.
2.   Breathe in slowly; let your belly rise.
3.   Purse your lips and breathe out.
4.   Do this 30 times.

14. Trace X

This exercise helps improve eye coordination and muscle movement.

How To Do Trace X Brain Gym

  1. Sit on a chair and close your eyes.
  2. Think of the letter X and trace it by moving your eyeballs.
  3. Do this 8 times. Rest for 10 seconds and repeat 8 times. 

15. Positive Points

This exercise helps improve memory and boosts mood.

How To Stimulate The Positive Points

  1. Gently touch the points above the eyes, halfway in between the eyebrows and the hairline using your fingertips.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Breathe deeply and slowly for 10 seconds.
  4. Repeat this 3 times. 

Conclusion

These brain gym exercises are great for learning and rebuilding your child’s body balance and posture and improving attention, speech, memory, and cognitive function. These are effective for kids and adults. Talk to your Occupational therapist and doctor and start training your and your kid’s brain with the brain gym exercises.

Dr. Hetal Dave
Dr. Hetal Dave is a Paediatric Occupational Therapist working in the field of Paediatrics with an experience of over 6 years. She has a special training in treating kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder from Com DEALL, Banglore (2015). She is certified in Hanen’s Early Communication for delay in communication from Hanen’s Centre, Australia (2017). She is also certified in Sensory Integration from the University of Southern California (2018).

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