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How to Keep an Active Mind with Apps

June 4th, 2013 Healthy Living

Emerging technologies make it possible to transfer funds on your mobile device, send emails from the train and take high-quality photos without a camera. But they also provide new and convenient ways to sharpen your mind. Read more to learn about how to use apps to keep an active mind.

Read on your mobile device
Reading critically gives your brain a cognitive exercise that you don't get otherwise. It may be difficult to cut back on the amount of physical books you buy, but eBooks are cheaper and eliminate the need to remember to bring your paperback with you. Leave your paperback on the bedside table and download a few page-turners on your smartphone or tablet. It's not as hard on your eyes as you may think, and it's more compact, which makes it easier to bring it with you on your commute or lunch hour. There are also apps that recommend books if you're having trouble finding the right read for you. 

Download educational apps
Learning a topic that isn't already in your repertoire can expand your horizons and will be useful in everyday life. There are many apps available that explain and/or teach you topics ranging from 18th-century literature to how your car engine works. Reading about these topics will also give you the cognitive exercise mentioned earlier, and might help you find your next passion. 

Look for mobile puzzles
A good way to replace the not-so-educational games that you habitually use is to install mobile puzzles. Puzzles can improve your spacial reasoning, logic skills, language processing and basic brain power in a fun (and even addicting!) way. Try out a few free apps and read user reviews to find the right one for you. 

Quiz yourself
Another great way to stay sharp and improve existing mental prowess is to download games that quiz you in various areas of study. You can learn historical dates, build on your math skills and enhance short-term memory by taking 10 minutes a day to test yourself. These apps (along with the puzzles) are convenient because they don't always require a Wi-Fi or 3G connection to use. 

Listen to lectures
Rather than listening to music at the gym or on the go, download a few lectures instead! NPR has a wide variety of panels, morning news reports and talk shows hosted by experts that will cultivate your knowledge of current events. They also feature interesting interviews with authors and experts in pop culture if you find listening to the news to be too heavy. In addition to being educational, they also make for smart conversation topics. TED Talks, the world-renowned lectures on technology, education and design, has an app that lets you download videos in addition to audio, and covers so many topics that it's easy to find one that appeals to you. 

Learn a new language
Pass the time by learning a second language. Use your mobile device to aid you in your endeavor by finding an app that helps you practice your speaking skills. There are apps available for several languages at varying degrees of proficiency. Most apps will allow you to access a few lessons for free before charging you a one-time fee for any further classes. Test a few out before purchasing any to make sure you've bought the best one for you. If learning a whole new language seems daunting, there are apps to help you touch up your vocabulary and grammar skills in your first language.