Keeping our minds healthy and strong, whether through diet, exercise, or completing some mental challenges, becomes more and more important as we age. But doing so doesn’t have to be difficult or 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 observed the impact that using a non-dominant hand for everyday tasks could have on brain health. Among the global population, about 9 in 10 people are right-handed, so the 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 continued to see improvements six months after the experiment ended.
The researchers attributed these results to the fact that the participants’ consistent use of their non-dominant hand had created new neural pathways in their brains, which in turn helped their bodies function more seamlessly than before.
Why are those connections between neurons so important as we age? They keep the brain nimble and more in tune with the body, and 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 might see similar improvements in about six weeks. It’s a great way to exercise your brain without much effort.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Woman’s World.