Build Your Own Brain Gym: 100 Tools, Exercises, and Games

May 28th, 2009

By Meredith Walker

Stay on top of your game mentally and slow the effects of aging on your brain by keeping it in excellent shape. It’s easy to do and costs little to no money with all the resources available on the Internet. The following tools, exercises, and games will stimulate your brain and give it the exercise it needs to stay in top form.

Mental Exercises

These mental exercises can be done every day to ensure your brain gets the necessary work-out.

  1. BrainMetrix. Find plenty of brain exercises here including challenging tests, memory games, and more.
  2. Neurobics. Invented by Larry Katz and Manning Rubin, Neurobics are mental exercises meant to stimulate the brain by doing usual things in an unusual way or doing activities that involve two different senses.
  3. Sing. If you have a problem you are thinking about, try singing about it instead. Singing stimulates the part of the brain that helps with problem-solving.
  4. Brain Exercise. This series of six questions will certainly get your brain warmed up.
  5. Luminosity. Try the free trial or purchase a membership to have access to brain training and games here.
  6. Brain Teasers. These brain exercises are broken down into two categories–Memory Attention and Sound Discrimination.
  7. Daydream. Researchers have discovered that daydreaming stimulates several areas of the brain, making the brain more active than when doing routine tasks.
  8. Dual n-back exercises. Created by psychologist Susanne Jaeggi specifically to improve intelligence, these mental exercises will help improve your working memory and fluid intelligence.

Physical Exercises

These physical exercises will help keep your brain working at its peak.

  1. BrainGym Exercises. These physical exercises taken from BrainGym International will help get your brain ready to work before a test or a big meeting.
  2. Wiggle Your Toes. Before getting out of bed in the morning, wiggle and stretch your toes to stimulate your brain.
  3. Breathe deeply. Breathing deeply sends plenty of oxygen-rich blood to your brain and also helps relax you. Both of these benefits help your brain work better.
  4. Walk. Walking as a form of exercise or as a break from the work day provides benefits to the brain. Some think the rhythmic nature helps organize the brain.
  5. Run. Researchers indicate that running increases the production of brain cells.
  6. Tai Chi. This ancient exercise that incorporates graceful stretching not only keeps your body healthy, but also keeps your brain in good shape.
  7. Sex. The cardiovascular benefits of sex have shown to help keep your mind sharp, so enjoy safe sex with your partner to exercise your brain.
  8. Yoga. The mental and physical benefits of yoga are well documented, but it is also a great way to keep your brain functioning well.
  9. Dance. In addition to a good time and a great workout, dancing also provides protection against dementia as you age.
  10. Walk the dog. Not only will the walk send more bloodflow to your brain, but you can imagine the world through your pet’s eyes as you walk to boost your creativity.
  11. Hike. Hiking opens you up to fresh air, new surroundings, and a sensory experience that will help stimulate your brain.
  12. Golf. The combination of physical, social, and intellectual properties of golf will keep your brain performing well.

Online Brain Games

The online games listed here are designed specially for working out your brain.

  1. Strategy Games. These seven games will require you use strategy, which is an excellent way to exercise your brain.
  2. HAPPYneuron. Try the fun games and activities here to build your brain fitness. Join for a fee to have access to fitness programs and personal coaches.
  3. Braingle. Some of the fun brain activities here include brain teasers, riddles, trivia, and brain exercises.
  4. Sharp Brains Brain Teasers and Games. Give these 50 games designed just for exercising your brain a try.
  5. Games for the Brain. Your brain will get a boost with games like Mastermind, chess, and Sudoku here.
  6. BrainCurls. Try your hand at jigsaw puzzles, memory games, and games that sharpen your observation skills.
  7. Brain Bashers. Find plenty of video games at this site that are meant to sharpen your mental prowess.
  8. Fit Brains. These games are designed by scientists to develop your brain power.
  9. BrainTraining 101. Logic, puzzle, memory, classic, and action games are the focus of this website’s brain games.

Especially for Seniors

Stimulating the brain is known to slow dementia and keep the aging brain in great shape. Try these online games designed specifically for seniors.

  1. Brain Age. Available on Nintendo DS, this game is excellent for sharpening the brain, especially for seniors.
  2. ThirdAge Games. The games at this site especially for seniors are categorized by sections including "Puzzles" and "Brain Fitness."
  3. Games. AARP provides these games which include chess, puzzles, card games, and multiplayer games.
  4. Freedom Years Games. Try the brain games offered here such as jigsaw puzzles, a memory game, and Sudoku.
  5. Grandparent Games. This site is designed to allow grandparents to connect with their grandchildren through interactive games. Try the free trial to boost your brain and stay connected with family.
  6. Games ~ Grandma Faith’s Website. Another site bridging the generations, these family-friendly games are meant for both young and old.

Word Games and Puzzles

Even though these games aren’t labeled as brain games, it is well-documented that jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, and word games boost your brain health.

  1. Jigsaw Puzzles. Work these online jigsaw puzzles for a great brain boost.
  2. Puzzability Sampler. Try interactive and non-interactive versions of classic games like Hangman, Acrostic, and Slider.
  3. Web Sudoku. Sudoku has been shown to boost brain power, so try these puzzles that include varying levels of difficulty.
  4. Online Sudoku. Another place for online Sudoku, here you can choose difficulty, save your game, reload, get hints, and check how you are doing.
  5. Free Online Word Search Puzzles. Solve word search puzzles from one of several categories.
  6. Play word games such as Boggler, anagrams, word jumble, and word morph here.
  7. Logic Puzzles. Logic puzzles are another excellent exercise for the brain. These free logic puzzles provide an easy-to-use solving grid and a timer.
  8. word games. Choose from one of eight different types of word games at this site.
  9. The Letterbox Game. Just like those assignments in grade school, try competing against the computer to make as many three and four-letter words as possible.
  10. The Word Playground. Play original word games at this website.
  11. Another site with original word games, you are sure to find something to stimulate your brain here.
  12. A Game A Day. Visit this site every week day to get a new word game.
  13. Merriam-Webster Online Word Games. Play the game of the day or select from a favorite classic when you visit the home of this popular online dictionary.
  14. LA Times Daily Crossword. This popular puzzle offers an interactive online version or a printable version to take on the go.
  15. Set up like the LA Times puzzles, these daily puzzles allow for plenty of solving options.
  16. Classic New York Times Crossword Puzzle. The NY Times crossword is famous for its challenging nature. Get a daily puzzle free or sign up for a membership to have access to the archives.
  17. Instant Online Crossword Puzzle Maker. Work your brain in the opposite direction by using this simple tool to create your own crossword puzzles.


These riddles provide great exercise for your brain by making you think outside the box.

  1. Riddles. Give these riddles a try. If you can’t figure them out, hover your mouse over "Give up?" to get the answer.
  2. Zahada. This site claims to have the most challenging riddles online. Give them a try and see how you do.
  3. Think and Do Riddles. These riddles offer quite a challenge. Don’t expect a quick answer, though, as you must email your answer to find out if you are correct.
  4. Riddles. Here are 20 riddles that will get your brain thinking. Answers are below the questions.
  5. Brain Teasers and Riddles. Get different types of riddles as well as logic puzzles and other brain teasers here.
  6. A Collection of Quant Riddles With (some) Answers. These challenging puzzlers will definitely keep you thinking. The ones with smiley faces have answers.
  7. Daily Outrageous Rebus Riddle Challenge. These rebus puzzles are super challenging and will help your brain work in new directions.
  8. Harder Riddles. These riddles are ranked by the number of stars to show their degree of difficulty.
  9. Give these challenging riddles a try, then check the answers if you can’t figure them out.
  10. Riddles. The riddles here are categorized by themes including wacky riddles, heroes and villains, and puzzling riddles.


These fun trivia sites provide tons of information you can store in your brain.

  1. Useful Trivia. Choose from Bible, history, holiday, TV trivia, among other categories here.
  2. Random facts. Learn random facts by reading through this listing of trivia.
  3. 100 Fascinating Facts You Never Knew about the Human Brain. These facts about the human brain are sure to get yours thinking.
  4. Fun Funny Facts. The funny facts here will not only stimulate your brain, but provide you with unusual information about things like the memory of goldfish.
  5. Fun Trivia Quizzes. Choose from several different trivia categories, then take the quizzes to test your knowledge at this site.
  6. Trivial Trivia Collection. Get celebrity trivia, unusual trivia, or select from other trivia categories to exercise your brain.
  7. Kickstart Your Brain With 21 TRUE Trivia Tidbits. Check out these facts to get your brain pumping.
  8. Trivia Cafe. Try the daily and weekly questions, contests, and other fun stuff at Trivia Cafe.
  9. Triviaplaza. Find fun facts about music, movies, geography, science, literature, and more here.

Learning Tools

Research has shown that if you keep learning, your brain gets stronger. These tools will help you learn everything from algebra to geography to vocabulary.

  1. Instructables. Instructables will help you learn how to make anything you want.
  2. Martindale’s Calculators On-line Center. Find all sorts of educational calculators including a slide rule and one to determine the nutrient content of food.
  3. Create a Graph. If you want to create a graph for a presentation or just to illustrate your thoughts, use this tool to custom-make any type of graph.
  4. Periodic Table of the Elements. This interactive, full-color periodic table will help you brush up on the elements and their properties.
  5. Get algebra help at this site where you can get lessons, calculators, worksheets, and more.
  6. Google Maps. This powerful interactive map allows you to create interactive maps, find places anywhere in the world, and get visual images of locations.
  7. Google Earth. Use Google Earth to visually explore places all over the world without ever leaving your computer.
  8. Visible Earth. Similar to Google Earth, Visible Earth provides you with NASA images of the Earth.
  9. Visible Body. This interactive tool will help you learn about human anatomy from the muscular system to internal organs.
  10. Mindomo. Whether you are working on a project or planning a novel, this web-based mind mapping tool will help you organize your thoughts.
  11. Quizlet. This interactive tool helps you learn about a wide range of subjects–including foreign languages, history, and math.
  12. Word of the Day. Get a new vocabulary word each day to expand your vocabulary and stimulate your brain.
  13. Online Etymology Dictionary. Find out the history of words and phrases with this fun online reference tool that is sure to get your brain working.
  14. FreeRice. Test yourself in several categories including English, Chemistry, Geography, Art, Math, and foreign languages to exercise your brain while helping feed the hungry for free.

Use Your Brain Creatively

From learning a new language to juggling to using chopsticks, these activities will help stimulate your brain by providing creative new ways to use it.

  1. Practice using your memory. Make a list and try to recall it an hour later or draw a map of a new route you have taken.
  2. Music. Listening to music uses both the right and left brain, and has shown to increase self esteem along with brain power.
  3. Read. Whether you are keeping up the news online or sitting down with a good book, reading helps keep your mind sharp.
  4. Doodle. This report on NPR tells how doodling helps the brain stay focused when you are engaged in mundane activities.
  5. Study a foreign language. Learning a new language will provide your brain the opportunity to make new neural connections, which increases intelligence.
  6. Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy provides a sensory opportunity that stimulates your brain, and when combined with other activities, allows your brain added benefit as describe in Neurobics exercises.
  7. Write down dreams. Write down your dreams as soon as you wake up in the morning to stay connected with the energy from your brain while you were sleeping, especially if you are trying to come up with creative ideas or solutions.
  8. Play chess. If you don’t already know how, learn how to play chess to help help raise intelligence and problem-solving.
  9. Play bridge. While this card game isn’t as popular as it once was, it is an excellent activity to keep your brain working, and you can find plenty of places online to play with others who enjoy the game.
  10. Surf the Internet. Scientists have learned that middle-aged and older adults who surf the Internet show brain activity that was once only attributed to younger brains.
  11. Journal. Write down your thoughts, create a poem, or find some other way to express yourself in a personal journal to help keep your brain in top shape.
  12. Juggle. Juggling requires you to use your less dominant hand, therefore stimulating your brain in ways it typically is not.
  13. Switch hands. Try using your less dominant hand for simple tasks like eating, brushing your teeth, or writing to stimulate your brain in new ways.
  14. Laugh. Laughing stimulates five different parts of your brain, so laugh often.
  15. Eat with chopsticks. Learning to use chopsticks will provide you with a new skill while also stimulating your brain.


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