As an activity, archery is great for exercising both the body and the mind. The physical toll of using a bow and arrow is equalled by the cerebral effort needed to make a successful shot. This means that archery is a popular pastime for people who are looking to challenge themselves in multiple different ways.
Whether you use a crossbow, compound bow, long bow or a recurve bow, you must engage both your physical strength and your brain power to have any chance of hitting a bullseye. With this in mind, it is interesting to look at alternative activities that can challenge your mind, your body or both in order to ensure that you stay in top form ahead of your next archery lesson or tournament. Some require specialist equipment, just like archery does, whereas others can be accessed either from home or on the move, making them the perfect filler activity in between archery sessions.
Rock climbing engages both mind and body in a similar way to how archery does. Although it may just seem like scrambling up and down a specialised climbing wall with no thought behind it, this image could not be further from the truth. Especially when it comes to outdoor climbing, climbers will always spend an extended period of time planning their route, or ‘solving the problem’, before they even attempt to make a start. Any good climbing documentary – for example, Free Solo and The Dawn Wall – will show you just how much planning and preparation goes into a big climb before one foot is lifted off the ground. For the casual amateur, this is what makes it such a great activity to include in your regular roster. Getting into a routine climbing habit will give you opportunity to assess a situation before diving in, and help you learn to rely on your own problem-solving skills as well as build up your physical strength. It’s just a great all-rounder.
Taking a step back from super physical activities for a minute, we find one of the most popular forms of entertainment on the planet: gaming. Whether this means console gaming, gaming on mobile or PC, in-person gaming or even playing board games, similar benefits can be gleaned from the experience. For example, building up your skills at a cerebral game like chess or poker can then lead to enhanced focus, strategy building abilities, and a boost in analytical thinking. From a more emotional standpoint, competitive mind sports incorporate personal discipline, emotional stability and even a rudimentary understanding of psychology. For this pastime, the internet is your best friend. Sites like Chess.com and PokerStarsCasino.com offer access to the classics from anywhere with an internet connection, whether that’s on a commuter train, on the sofa at home or sat in your favourite café. Using these great resources, you can build up your skills within your game(s) of choice and sharpen your mind as you do so.
One of the best ways to increase your brain power is to learn another language. It is well documented that people who are multilingual have increased job prospects, a better understanding of cultures different from their own, and enhanced decision-making skills. There’s also evidence to suggest that learning a new language helps keep your brain in good health as you age. Which language you learn is up to you. It can be useful to think about how helpful this language might be for you in everyday life; for example, many English-speaking Canadians learn French as they live in a dual language country. The same is true for English-speaking North Americans who may learn Spanish in order to better connect with the large Spanish-speaking population in their country. Fantastic apps and websites such as DuoLingo, Memrise and Rosetta Stone offer both free and premium memberships so that their programmes are as accessible as possible. Why not give one a go today and see how you get on?
The practise of yoga is one that, traditionally, combines mind, body and soul, using certain movements, breath techniques and meditation to bring a sense of wellbeing. Of course, stretching and relaxing our bodies can lead to a calmer mind and greater sense of clarity; this makes decision making come more easily, amongst other perks. However, getting to grips with the different movements and positions that are often utilised in yoga is another great way to engage mind and body simultaneously. If you practice often enough, you will soon find yourself moving easily from cat cow, to table-top, to plank, to cobra and round again without too much difficulty. Memorising the positions and the movements in between is a gentle work out for your memory and can even exercise your creativity as you decide which moves you would like to combine and flow through from one moment to the next.