Friday, August 13, 2010

Mental Gymnastics

You can’t see your brain or anyone else’s for that matter. (Thank goodness!) So, we tend not to think too much about what shape it is in. It doesn’t have to fit into a bikini or squeeze into some tight jeans. So what does it really matter? If your brain is not in tip top shape, it can effect almost any aspect of your life. Believe me, it is one of those things you take completely for granted until something is not working right. Then you notice big time.

Brain fitness has to become a part of our culture just like physical fitness. It is already starting to somewhat. Brain gyms and brain fitness classes are popping up here and there. However, it is not necessary to go to a brain gym to keep your brain in shape. There is plenty you can do on your own.

Just as for your heart, breaking a sweat is about the best thing you can do for your brain. Exercise increases the oxygenated blood flow to the brain and promotes the birth of new neurons. A study at the University of Illinois found that something as simple a three vigorous, 40 minute walks a week over a 6 month period improved participants memory and reasoning.

Complex and diverse mental challenges are next on the list for brain fitness. Doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku are good, but they are not near enough. They ask a person to recall things already known. The brain stays healthy by doing new things and by being challenged.

The idea is to push your brain beyond its comfort zone. Learning new skills, hobbies, or sports, continuing to educate yourself, putting yourself in new social situations, and traveling to new places are great for the brain. Even seemingly simple things like taking a new route to a familiar place, sleeping on the different side of the bed, or brushing your teeth with your non dominant hand will give your brain a little work out.

There are many companies offering brain boosting products these days. Luminosity ( ), Advanced Brain Technologies ( ), and Posit Science ( are some recognized names in this field. Studies showing the hard, definitive results for such activities are still being conducted but are generally encouraging. Most are proving, just like with physical fitness, consistent practice over time does produce positive results.

I can tell you, from my own experience, such products have been an invaluable and amazing part of my recovery from a serious brain injury. I can’t say enough good stuff about Posit’s products. In doing their Brain Fitness Program software, I more than doubled my mental processing speed. This made a huge difference for me. I still do brain training consistently.

Last, but not least on the list is nutrition. All the same recommendations for a heart healthy diet work for a brain healthy diet. Eating lots of dark colored fruits, especially berries, and myriad of vegetables provides the brain with antioxidants and many vitamins and minerals. Including fish and nuts regularly and often will give your brain the omega-3 fatty acids it needs to be at its best. A highly intelligent diet would include lots of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and good fats. Supplements are a great aid here. Water is SO important to your brain’s optimal functioning.

No comments:

Post a Comment