Ah, finally– the weekend. Time to kick it with friends, family, and a refreshing beverage or two.

While the temptation to turn our brains off after a grueling week of work can be a strong one, it’s important to our cognitive functions and long-lasting brain health to keep our brain muscles in constant action. The weekends are a great opportunity to flex your memory in fun, new ways that you don’t typically get to during the work week. Here’s a few fun ideas you can do solo or with the fam.

  1. Take a dance classPhysical activity is always a great boost for the brain. Adults brain-processing speeds tend to improve after just half an hour of moderate exercise, and one study has shown that listening to music can improve brain function while exercising. So dancing is a perfect workout for brain health!

    Dancing also involves challenging your brain to coordinate your limbs in time with a beat, and can protect against cognitive decline. Sign up for a dance class at a local gym or studio, or simply turn up the jams in your living room for half an hour and get moving!

  2. Organize your houseNow, maybe this doesn’t sound particularly fun but it will be fun once it’s done, right? Cleaning can be turned into a series of fun challenges and activities for kids, like learning to stack things or find objects that go together.

    And a clean, organized house can help improve memory and cognitive skills.

  3. Do some journaling Writing things down by hand, as opposed to typing on a computer or phone, can improve brain skills like learning and memory. Whether you sit down with a journal to reflect on the week or the past month, write a few letters to old friends, or just write down random things like a short story or as many haikus as you can think of, it will make a difference. You’re more likely to remember words when you write them out.
  4. Have some real conversationsWhen’s the last time you really asked someone, how are you? and then waited for a response. Too often we simply move through the motions, and forget to listen to each other. Whether it’s with your romantic partner or a close friend, spend some time lost in a real and maybe challenging conversation that goes beyond the pleasantries of our day-to-day’s. Our relationships help protect us against memory loss, and the work we put into those relationships is what we keeps them (and our brains) strong.
  5. Get there on footWant to explore your city this weekend? Consider walking, or walking at least part of the way, instead of going the entire way by car, this time. Not only will you get physical activity in which is, once again, so crucial, but you’ll activate the part of your brain that understands navigation and spatial memory. So often these days we rely on our phone and car GPS systems that we let the parts of our minds that are capable of doing that get weaker.

    By walking, or biking or taking a scooter, you can create mental maps of neighborhoods and cultivate different parts of your brain then you would on public transit or in a car. And enjoy the views!