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5 Fun ways to exercise your brain with your kids

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There are some days that I truly think my kids are smarter than me. They are all pretty young, so I don't think it is actually true, but they stump me with the things they absorb that I forgot years ago.

While I know I am somewhat of an intelligent person, it is important to me that I maintain as much memory and brain power as possible. In fact, since passing 40, I have noticed a decrease in the ability to remember things, to retain information for very long and that I get tired more quickly if I have to use my brain too long. We all know that we have walked into a room and forgotten why we are there. It simply escalates with age. I, for one, would like to reverse that and maintain the brain power I have now as much as possible.

It is also important that I help my kids use their brains for more than recalling the lines of the latest SpongeBob movie. Oftentimes, through games and activities, I throw in a little brain booster. I like games that we can play together and challenge each other with while having some laughs along the way! So I came up with five games and activities that will challenge both you and your kids.

1. Brain-building online games

Get ready to get addicted to the Game Show Network and its brain-bending game, Idiotest, in its second season! This seemingly super-simple game has thrown my brain for a spin for a few days now. Using logic, a quick eye and a quick mind, the game pairs two contestants against each other in a dual of fun! You can watch the show on GSN premiering April 1 at 8/7c and you can be a participant too! You can play yourself or you can challenge a friend or family member online. I arrogantly flew through the creative and deceptively simple puzzles, thinking I had them all right the first time. When I failed to even advance to round two my first time in, I realized that these fun, colorful and often whimsical scenes that test observation and attention to detail were going to make me flex some brain muscles that had been dormant way too long! I cannot tell a lie; I am somewhat addicted now. I actually argue with the screen when I get one wrong. Which is often. Hence my need to continue!

2. Brain-building classic board games

My girls are still too young to play my level of Trivial Pursuit or Clue, but when my brothers were here over the holidays we all gave our brains a little workout. Board games help to not only bond the players together with stories that only come from that table, but the most challenging games of fact and memory recall can help build that brain back up to buff! I was truly surprised that my 14-year-old niece did better at the games than her 42-year-old aunt. Especially since I pride myself in having superior deductive reasoning skills, thus usually being able to figure out the answers. Games that have a challenge, that make you think and that make those around you think can only be good for everyone's brain health!

3. Games that include activity

It has been shown time and time again that exercise can help us build our brain power. The Daily Beast, among other websites, concluded that just 30 minutes of activity a day can improve cognitive function. I, for one, need all the function from this thinking organ that I can find. So whether it is a sometimes-friendly game of basketball with my brothers or an outside scavenger hunt with the kids, adding activity into your brain building can be very beneficial.

4. Read

I drill it into my kids' heads every day. Reading has the ability to keep us mentally sharp, teach us new things on every page and to enhance our thought process as well as our vocabulary. I tell them that they can meet their best friends in life between the pages. Reading is the one thing I can rely on that can not only increase my ability to think and comprehend, but also allow me to escape from whatever is in front of me at the moment. That can only be good for my brain power, in my opinion!

5. Sit and solve a puzzle

I am not sure how fitting little pieces together to create a larger one gets me so focused, but it does. The kids and I pull out simple puzzles as of now, but there was a time when on any given day I would have a 1,000-piece puzzle in progress on my kitchen table. I feel like the ability to patiently sort and concentrate on something so tedious and to succeed is so rewarding. The same thing goes for crossword puzzles and sudoku. All of these puzzle-solving activities can enhance your memory, problem solving skills and focus. For decades, puzzles have built the brains of masters. Much like Idiotest, puzzles sometimes deceive and play against your common sense. But if you can do it and solve it, you are only growing a stronger brain that can function better for you.

Any game that can stump you and make you think is a winner in my book. In this technological age we live in, I love Idiotest and the ease of challenging yourself or someone else from the computer or device in your hand. I have a feeling that on April 1, I will be watching GSN to see if I have the quick mind and eye to be a contender in my living room!

Disclosure: This post is part of collaboration between the Game Show Network and SheKnows.

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