As we age, we all need to think more about how to keep our brains healthy and strong, whether that’s through diet, exercise, or completing some additional mental tasks to challenge us. But it turns out that keeping our minds sharp doesn’t have to be difficult or incredibly time-consuming. In fact, all it takes is five minutes a day writing with a non-dominant hand.
In a study published in the academic journal Neuropsychologia, scientists were interested in observing the impacts that using a non-dominant hand could have on brain health. About 9 in 10 people in the world are right-handed, so their experiment focused on participants switching sides to use their left hands. After 10 days of writing exercises, researchers discovered that 89 percent of subjects saw increased speed, accuracy, and smoothness in their left hands, and 71 percent still saw improvements six months after the experiment ended. They concluded this is due to the fact that the ongoing regular practice had created new neural pathways in the brain, which in turn helped the body function much more seamlessly than before.
Another reason why those connections between neurons are so important as you get older? Not only do they keep your brain nimble and more in tune with your body, but they could prevent other signs of aging, such as general forgetfulness or even degenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
All told, researchers found that just 200 minutes of total practice led to a significant bump in cognitive function for both short-term and long-term brain health. In other words, if you were to write with your non-dominant hand for just five minutes every day, you could potentially see these same huge improvements in under a month a half. Talk about an easy way to work out your noggin without too much extra effort!
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Woman’s World.