Memory Improvement Exercises for a Stronger Brain

Want a stronger brain? Weave memory improvement exercises into your daily routine. Constantly challenge your memory. Put your memory to work!

See below for a list of suggested exercises.

Your memory isn't a muscle, but it does react like one. Fail to use your muscles, and you become physically weak. Just ask anyone who has had to stay in bed for a month due to illness.

Neglect your memory, and your ability to remember things will decrease too.

Athletes don't mind the hours spent in the gym. They want the added strength and stamina. View yourself as a "mental athlete," and reap the rewards of a stronger brain.

Look for ways to engage your memory. Create your own memory improvement exercises, and embrace the mental effort.

Earlier generations were forced to use their memories. A hundred years ago, the average person probably had a better memory than we do today. We are so dependent on crutches to help us remember that we've nearly lost the skill.

Smart phones, computers, and calculators have their place but lessen mental effort. A powerful way to improve your memory is increase the mental effort you expend each day. Create your own memory improvement exercises that can then become memory improvement habits.

Memory systems, online brain games, memory improvement vitamins, the importance of adequate sleep, and other factors are discussed elsewhere on this website. They also contribute to a better memory. But you can get even better results by adding your own custom memory improvement exercises to the mix. See below for suggestions.

Memory Improvement Exercises: Some Ideas

Brain power

Make the memory improvement exercises below your own. Embed them in your daily routine. Modify them to your own situation. Some may seem difficult at first. That's an indication of how weak your brain has become!

Not only will this mental activity improve your memory and sharpen your brain in the short run, it may protect you from Alzheimer's disease.

  • Once in a while read upside down. This seems impossible, but your brain will adjust quickly. Try this sentence:

    ˙oʍʇ ɹo ɥdɐɹƃɐɹɐd ɐ pɐǝɹ puɐ uʍop ǝpısdn ʞooq ʎuɐ uɹn⊥

    Remember to read from right-to-left.

  • Memorize the cell phone numbers of your ten closest friends and relatives. After that, memorize ten more. Then ten more.

  • When grocery shopping, mentally keep a running total of the value of the items in your cart. At first, round off prices to make it easier. For a real challenge, include the exact amounts of dollars and cents as you perform the mental computations.

  • Memorize your grocery list, especially if you only need a dozen items or less. It's okay to keep a written copy in your pocket for review when you're done shopping.

  • Join one or more card-playing groups. Bridge, Canasta, Euchre, Canasta, Poker - it doesn't matter. Play with the group at least twice a month.

  • If you have someone to play board games with, start a game night. Play a different board game once a week. Choose challenging games. If checkers is too easy, learn chess.

  • Create short-term memory tests. Place a dozen small objects on a table. Examples: button, coin, photo, pencil, paperclip, key, etc. Take ten seconds to memorize the items, then cover with a hat or cloth. Recall, out loud, as many as you can.

  • Complete a crossword puzzle a day. Buy a crossword book which has dozens of puzzles such as the New York Times crossword collection, or complete the puzzle in your daily newspaper.

  • Memorize one "top ten list" each day. Examples: Top 10 Greatest Mathematicians, 10 Huge Prehistoric Cats, 10 Most Common Food Allergies, Top 10 Castles and Palaces. Type "top ten lists" into a Google search, and you'll find dozens.

  • Learn a craft or hobby. Pick something challenging and intriguing. Become an expert.

  • Spend 10 minutes a day memorizing place names from around the globe. First challenge yourself to memorize the U.S. state capitals. Then memorize the names of the countries on each continent. Then memorize the capitals of those countries.

  • When you meet someone new, memorize at least three pieces of information about them besides their name. Write this information down later on an index card. Periodically study your cards.

  • Create flash cards on a subject you know nothing about. Make 50 flash cards that define the main concepts of that topic. Memorize the cards, and test yourself periodically. Wrap each stack with a rubber band, or file them in small boxes to keep them organized.

  • Recall facts in reverse order. Don't waste those minutes spent in an elevator, during your morning commute, or other times when you are waiting or sitting idle.

    For example, say or think the letters of the alphabet in reverse order. It's challenging the first time. As you get better, say or think it faster. Even time yourself!

    There are lots of math sequences that can be said backward that require you to concentrate intensely and think hard. For instance, try counting backward from 100 by 3's. Too easy? Try counting backward by 7's, etc. It's a brain workout on the go.

  • Practice taking mental snapshots at events you want to remember. This technique can help you create clear visual memories of the special moments in your life.

  • Memorize the order of the playing cards in a randomly shuffled deck. No, this isn't impossible! Use the visualization memory systems described elsewhere on this site.

  • Memorize the lyrics of your favorite songs. To get the lyrics, type the song name plus the word "lyrics" into a Google search.

  • Determine to learn a new language. Find a native speaker who you can converse with on a regular basis. Become bilingual!

  • After reading a book, write down a summary of the plot or main points of the book plus what you learned. If you don't read much, start now with the classics.

  • Keep a daily journal. At day's end, recall what happened that day and write it down in as much detail as you can.

  • Before going to sleep, recount to yourself the events of your day. The more you practice this, the better you'll get at remembering even small details. Your powers of observation will improve, as will your concentration.

    Some people take this beyond a memory exercise. They mentally "thank" each person they interacted with that day; or, like Seneca, review mistakes they made (got angry, were selfish, told a lie, etc.), considering how to avoid such errors in the future.

Those are just a few ideas for memory improvement exercises.

You can think of many more if you put your mind to it. Push your brain to the limit, and you will be rewarded.

Concerned your memory will worsen as you get older? Now is the time to take action.

"Use it or lose it," as the old saying goes. Find ways to exercise your memory, or risk an increased chance of early onset memory loss.

To use another well-worn expression, you don't get something for nothing. And you can't have a strong memory (or, as you age, likely even keep the one you have) without investing time and effort.

Build a program of memory improvement exercises into your daily routine, and you won't regret it.

Published: 12/16/2010
Last Updated: 01/06/2022

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