Mental_ExerciseAlright gang ... time to enter the “way back machine” because we’re going retro today.  Don your leg warmers, sweat bands, spandex, and crank up your favorite inspiring tunes and get MOTIVATED because we’re modifying Olivia’s tune and Gettin’ MENTAL! 

Like your arms and your abs, your brains can get all flabby too.  At some point as adults, many of us have a tendency to stop exercising our brains; we just don’t take time to learn any more.  It’s not necessarily because we’ve gotten lazy or apathetic.  Our minds are so tired from the rigors of the day that the thought of doing any sort of “mental calisthenics” is almost too much to handle.  But just as physical exercise is critical to our overall well-being, mental exercise can be critical to our professional health!  So, do a few quick stretches, perhaps like this, as we don’t want you to pull a mental hammy. 

Why should you flex your head?

While the jury is still out on the scientific validity of claims that “brain fitness” has health benefits such as reducing age-related dementia and other cerebral ailments, one thing is clear; certain brain-sharpening activities do have a variety of other benefits … especially in the context of your career.  Whether you work in education, information technology, marketing, sales, or operations, you will benefit from some mental exercise such as brain games, puzzles, reading, etc. 

Any brain sharpening game or puzzle worth its weight forces the participant to exercise critical thinking skills. This term, critical thinking, is familiar to many, but here is how the authors of the Watson-Glaser Thinking Appraisal define it:

“… a composite of attitudes, knowledge and skills. This composite includes: (1) attitudes of inquiry that involve an ability to recognize the existence of problems and an acceptance of the general need for evidence in support of what is asserted to be true; (2) knowledge of the nature of valid inferences, abstractions, and generalizations in which the weight or accuracy of different kinds of evidence are logically determined; and (3) skills in employing and applying the above attitudes and knowledge.”

Now, in real world terms, critical thinking begins with simply asking “why”? Good critical thinkers rarely take anything at face value. Critical thinkers look beneath the surface to learn more about the subtle forces at work in a particular problem. This level of analysis gives critical thinkers a comprehensive understanding, not only of the problem itself, but, perhaps more importantly, of potential solutions.

How do you benefit from such activities?

Brain games and “mental calisthenics” are sort of like pumping cerebral iron. These kinds of activities give you the opportunity to practice those essential critical thinking skills in a safe environment. For example, if a particular “Practical Reasoning Puzzle” happens to take you an hour to solve … who cares? It’s a fantastic practice opportunity and there isn’t a client waiting for the results on the other end. Additionally, practicing different types of brain games will give you insight into your own critical thinking strengths and weaknesses. For example, you might breeze through even the toughest of riddles or reasoning puzzles, but when it comes to mathematical activities, you get stuck. Armed with this information, you’ll know how you can exploit your strengths in the workplace, as well as which skill areas you need to work on to improve. 

In short, brain sharpening exercises let you practice altering your own perspective to solve problems. And beyond that, they’re kind of like measuring your mental Body Mass Index. You can identify where you’re mentally buff (and also pinpoint your cerebral love handles).


As we all know, talking about working out doesn’t get you results! No pain, no gain … or something like that. To jumpstart your mental workouts, I’d like to suggest this great website that contains a variety of excellent activities to get your brain super buff!  Until next time, good luck on improving your mental fitness and don’t forget to stretch!


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