15 Easy Brain Gym Exercises To Improve Focus And Memory

Some of the most effective ways to improve concentration, focus, and other cognitive functions.

Reviewed by Rakesh Rathod, Certified Personal Trainer
By Charushila Biswas, MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist

Brain gym exercises are simple activities that improve cognitive function. These exercises help enhance learning, communication ability, attention, memory, academic performance in children and also help maintain a healthy lifestyle (1), (2). While they were initially designed for kids, they also may help delay Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems, and depression and anxiety in adults (3), (4), (5), (6).

This article explores the 15 best brain gym exercises and their benefits. Keep reading.

Why Are Brain Gym Exercises Good?

  1. Make you smarter and sharper.
  2. Boost your confidence levels.
  3. Improve your self-esteem.
  4. Improve attention and memory.
  5. Boost thinking and decision-making abilities.
  6. Revitalize your natural healing mechanisms.
  7. Restore health and harmony.
  8. Help improve eyesight.
  9. Enhance creativity and communication skills.
  10. Cheer you up when you feel disappointed or rejected.

The best part of brain gym is that anyone can do these exercises, from kids to older adults, and improve their quality of life. Explore the brain gym activities in the following section.

15 Brain Gym Exercises

1. Marching In Place

Marching in place is a great way to warm up your muscles. This low-to-moderate intensity exercise preps your muscles and improves breathing, balance, and hand-leg coordination.

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 and bend your right knee slightly. Place your right leg softly on the floor.
  3. Lift your left leg and bend your left knee slightly. Place your left leg softly on the floor.
  4. Do this 30 times. You can use a chair if you find it difficult to march without support.

2. Cross Crawl

Cross crawl exercise helps improve the coordination between the right and left brain. You can do it either by standing, sitting, or lying, depending on your comfort level.

How To Do Cross Crawl

  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.
  4. Simultaneously, bend your right elbow and try to touch the left knee with your right elbow.
  5. Get back to the starting position. Do the same with your left hand and right leg.
  6. Do three sets with eight repetitions.

You may sit on a chair and do this exercise if you have a knee injury or are relearning to balance your body.

Before moving on to the next brain gym exercise, check out this video showing various types of cross crawl exercises.

3. Ankle Touch

Similar to the previous exercise, the ankle touch exercise helps enhance 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 and touch your right ankle with your left hand.
  3. Place your right foot on the floor and lift your left foot.
  4. Try to touch your left ankle with your right hand.
  5. Do 15-20 reps.

4. Ankle Touch Behind Your Body

This brain gym is another variation of the ankle touch. It is an effective way to improve balance and coordination between the right and left limbs.

How To Do Ankle Touches Behind Your Body

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

5. Step Touch

Step touch, also known as the dancer’s warm-up, is great for lateral or side-to-side movement coordination.

How To Do Step Touch

  1. Stand with your legs close together.
  2. Take a step toward your right with your right leg.
  3. Place your left foot 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

Neck circles are good for the neck muscles and head movement coordination. This activity also improves balance if you do it while standing. Keep your eyes closed when you do this exercise.

How To Do Neck Circles

  1. Stand or sit on a chair and close your eyes. Roll your shoulders back.
  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 center. This completes one neck circle.
  4. Repeat 10 of these before doing the same on the left side.
StyleCraze Says
If you have bone or joint problems, such as arthritis or osteoporosis, you should avoid tilting your head back. Instead, perform the half-circle version of this exercise. Alternately, avoid moving your head forward or backward and only tilt it side to side.

7. Cook’s Hook-Up

The cook’s hook-up exercise helps calm the nerves and improves hand and brain coordination.

How To Do Cook’s Hook-Up

  1. Sit straight on 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 six deep breaths.
  4. Release the hook and join your fingertips. Take six deep breaths.
  5. Do this 3-5 times.

8. Brain Button

This exercise helps improve the flow of electromagnetic energy. It relaxes 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. Repeat this 10 times.
  4. Place your right palm on your belly, left fingers an inch below the collarbone, and massage in a circular motion.
  5. Do this 10 times.

9. Lazy Eights

Lazy eights brain gym exercise

Shutterstock

In lazy eights, you trace the number eight or infinity symbol with a marker on a whiteboard or with a pen/pencil on white paper. Following the shape with your eyes have several benefits. It improves eye muscle movement, visual tracking, peripheral vision, attention span, and coordination. This activity enhances your abilities to understand languages, study comprehension, and eliminate reversals and transpositions.

How To Do Lazy Eights

  1. Draw a big infinity symbol on a whiteboard.
  2. Trace it 20-30 times.
  3. Fix your eyes on the tip of the marker and trace it with your eyes while drawing the lateral ‘8’ or infinity symbol.
  4. Breathe. Close your eyes and relax.

10. The Elephant

The elephant brain gym helps improve attention, recognition, perception, memory, speech, spelling, thinking ability, depth perception, and eye coordination.

How To Do The Elephant

  1. Stand straight. Keep one hand behind you and extend the other above your head such that your upper arm touches your ear and head.
  2. Bend your knees and extend your right hand in front of you.
  3. Trace a horizontal ‘8’ or infinity symbol with your extended arm. Move your upper body and eyes while doing so.
  4. Do this 3-5 times.
  5. Repeat with the other hand.

Note: You can also do this exercise in a sitting position.

11. The Energy Yawn

The energy yawn exercise helps release tension in the jaw and relaxes the eyes.

How To Do Energy Yawn

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

12. The Thinking Cap

The thinking cap activity effectively improves learning speed and mood, increases attention span, and boosts memory in kids and adults.

How To Do Thinking Cap

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

13. Belly Breathing

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

How To Do Belly Breathing

  1. Stand or sit. Place your right hand on your tummy and your left hand on your chest.
  2. Breathe in slowly and let your belly rise.
  3. Purse your lips and breathe out.
  4. Do this 30 times.
StyleCraze Says
People with respiratory problems, such as asthma or COPD, should use caution when starting to practice belly breathing. It could initially result in difficulty in breathing and tiredness. You will need to increase the duration of belly breathing gradually to see the effects over time.

14. Trace X

Trace x brain gym exercise

Shutterstock

The trace X exercise helps improve eye coordination, vision, depth perception, hearing, and body coordination. It enhances your skills in writing, organization, mathematics, spelling, grammar, language learning, sports, and executive function (planning and scheduling).

How To Do Trace X

  1. Sit on a chair and close your eyes.
  2. Trace the alphabet ‘X’ by moving your eyeballs.
  3. Do this eight times. Rest for 10 seconds and repeat.
  4. After you are done, close your eyes and relax.

Note: You can also draw a big ‘X’ spanning the diagonals of a whiteboard and trace it with your eyes.

15. Positive Points

This exercise helps draw positive emotions and reduces the negative ones. It releases stress, relieves memory blocks, and boosts your mood. The positive points brain gym also enhances long-term memory and improves learning, reading, academic skills, and stage and sports performances.

How To Stimulate The Positive Points

  1. Gently touch the points above the eyes, halfway between the eyebrows and the hairline using your fingertips.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Breathe deeply and slowly for 10 seconds. Think of whatever is bothering you.
  4. Repeat this three times.

Note: Practice it regularly to train your brain to restrict bothering thoughts.

Infographic: Most Easiest Brain Gym Exercises

Brain Gym exercises are simple exercises that help in preventing neurodegenerative diseases and improve cognitive function while also boosts self-confidence and decision-making skills. As discussed in the article there are many exercises that help in improving focus and memory but some of them are difficult to do.

Check out the infographic below to find out the easiest brain gym exercises you should try out.

the 7 most easiest brain gym exercises [infographic]

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Workout routines are good for maintaining a fit and healthy body. It is a universal truth that exercising improves your muscle tone and fitness, but there are a few exercises that improve your cognitive function as well. Brain gym exercises help boost your memory and attention span along with academic and athletic performance. Make sure that you are doing the exercises correctly as incorrect form can lead to injuries or muscle pains. Consult a therapist and primary care physician before beginning these brain gym exercises to learn how to make the most of these exercises.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is brain gym evidence-based?

Yes. Brain gym exercises help improve cognition, mental health, and overall well-being.

Which brain gym exercise is best for students?

The following exercises are best for students:

  • Belly breathing
  • Positive points
  • Thinking cap
  • Brain button

How do you exercise your left brain?

Do coordinated moves of the right limbs to exercise your left brain.

Is the brain gym an effective educational intervention?

Yes. The brain gym might help improve thinking, reading, and speaking abilities. However, no evidence shows the brain gym to be an effective educational intervention.

Key Takeaways

  • From kids to adults, anyone can try brain gym exercises to improve their memory, attention, and confidence and delay Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Exercises like cross crawl and ankle touch help improve balance and coordination.
  • Brain button is an exercise that helps you relax and promotes body balance.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Brain Gym To Increase Academic Performance Of Children Aged 10-12 Years Old ( Experimental Study in Tembalang Elementary School and Pedalangan Elementary School Semarang)
    https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1755-1315/55/1/012017
  2. The effects of senior brain health exercise program on basic physical fitness cognitive function and BDNF of elderly women – a feasibility study
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4977910/
  3. Physical Activity and Brain Health
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770965/
  4. A Life-Long Approach to Physical Activity for Brain Health
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5440589/
  5. Role of exercise on the brain
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5091051/
  6. Physical Exercise Enhances Neuroplasticity and Delays Alzheimer’s Disease
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6296269/

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author
Charushila is an ISSA certified Fitness Nutritionist and a Physical Exercise Therapist. Over a span of 5 years, she has... more

Rakesh Rathod

(Certified Personal Trainer)
Rakesh Rathod is a certified fitness trainer and yoga instructor with more than 20 years of experience in the fitness... more

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