Exercise is an important part of your lifestyle, but it involves more than just physically moving and working out. Exercising your brain and stimulating it to continue to grow through exercises of the mind is extremely important.

At birth, your brain contained about 100 billion neurons, or nerve cells, waiting to find a network of sorts to connect to. As you grew, your brain started to eliminate neurons that were unable to find connections. The good news is that as you age, you brain has the opportunity to produce new neurons and make new connections if you exercise it.

Use it or Lose It
You have probably heard the old saying “Use it, or lose it” at some point in your life. This saying is especially true for your mind. The best thing you can do for your mind is to develop a plan for constant learning, and the very best place to start is with reading. Unfortunately, the average American reads less than one book a year. If you want to keep your mind sharp you must do better than that. You must strive to be way above average. I recommend you commit to reading at least 10 pages every single day from a good book.

Take Up a Hobby
Your brain continues to grow and work when it is forced to learn new things. At least once a month you should do something that totally scares you and forces you to leave your comfort zone. This could include trying a new sport, skydiving, public speaking, starting a new business, learning to invest, studying another language, and a slew of other activities you have held yourself back from trying. Do anything that is going to make your brain learn something new.

Remember, it takes work to learn anything. Some new hobbies you take up may be harder to learn than others. For example, if you take up learning a new language at 45 instead of at 10, you will find it more difficult, though not impossible. The neurons your brain needs to make connections with certain sounds associated with words in other languages are destroyed as you get older. But do not let that frustrate you. Consider obstacles you might face as springs. When you step on them hard enough, they will catapult your brain to a new level.

Play Games
When children are babies we bombard them with colorful toys designed to stimulate their brain development. Blocks with letters not only teach children the alphabet, but they also teach them to build. Puzzles teach them fine motor skills. For some reason, as we age, we tend to stop playing games. Why? There are plenty of games for adults designed to keep us thinking, and thinking allows us to exercise our mind.

Jigsaw puzzles force you to focus and concentrate on turning hundreds of little pieces into one big picture. Rubik’s cubes force you to strategize as you twist and turn colored blocks into a matching pattern. Crosswords not only exercise your brain by forcing you to recall old words, but they also work on brain development by teaching you new words. Sudoku puzzles use numbers to help you develop logical and analytical skills. So consider adding some of these games into your recreational time. You’ll not only feel a sense of accomplishment when you complete them, but your brain will thank you for it too.

[Ed. Note: In his new book, The Green Beret Doctor's Health Plan for Life, Dr. Tim shares even more tips on how to exercise your brain. To order a copy, click here.]

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Tim Reynolds is the managing parter for HealthCare Express. He is also the president and CEO of Dr. Tim, International, a company he founded in 2009 to allow him to share his passion for Living Every Minute with others. He dedicates countless hours each week to helping other people change their lives through mentoring, life building, giving inspirational talks and writing for his motivational newsletter, Adventures with Dr. Tim.

Dr. Tim was the first member of his family to graduate high school. He joined the military shortly after graduation. Dr Tim was a graduate of the Special Forces Q-course in July of 1982. He served as a Green Beret medic on an A-Team, as the Battalion medic and eventually as a Special Forces Battalion Surgeon for the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne). He served both enlisted and as an officer for 17 years.

After getting out of the military, Dr. Tim was the first in his family to graduate college with honors. His passion for helping people inspired him to become a medical doctor, and in 1993 he graduated Summa Cum Laude with an MD degree from the University of Utah. He completed his Emergency Medicine residency at Texas A&M Scott and White in 1996 and is board certified in emergency medicine. Dr. Tim is the managing partner for HealthCARE Express, a group of urgent care clinics rapidly expanding across the United States.

Prior to starting HealthCARE Express in 2006, Dr. Tim held numerous positions across the medical field, including: medical director of the Wadley Regional Medical Center Emergency Department and level II trauma center; director, Texas College of Emergency Physicians Board of Directors; president of E-Med Services, LLP and of E-Med Billing Solutions, LLP; associate clinical professor for the Area Health Education Center at the University of Arkansas; founding member of the Greater People’s Clinic of Texarkana Board of Directors.

Dr. Tim speaks fluent Spanish, having lived in Guatemala and traveled throughout Central America.

In addition to his medical experience, Dr. Tim is also an entrepreneur and successful businessman. He is currently the chief executive officer of TL Reynolds Properties, LLP, a real estate investment company; and he is a managing partner of JJET Developments Ltd., a real estate development company.

Dr. Tim has served on numerous other committees and boards throughout both the medical and business communities and is published in various journals and publications. He is sought after as a presenter at many national conferences.

In his leisure time, Dr. Tim enjoys spending time on his Ranch in Atlanta, Texas, where he lives with his beautiful wife, Pam, and their five amazing children. He holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, is a SCUBA rescue diver, and a pilot. He also enjoys body building, golf, and hiking.

Dr. Tim is a world traveler, having visited six of the seven continents. He is a firm believer in living every minute of life and teaching others to do the same. His online website www.livingeveryminute.com allows him to reach thousands of people around the world as they subscribe to his weekly self-help and life improvement adventure newsletters.