Brain Exercise Really Works!

For ALL Ages!

Change Your Brain – Change Your Life!

Exercise for the Brain?

Wellness has traditionally been perceived as being free of disease. If you were not sick, you were considered healthy. This view is changing and wellness is no longer just the absence of disease, but the preventive and proactive approach to achieving optimum levels of health in all dimensions of wellness.

Today the idea of maintaining physical fitness through nutrition and exercise has become common-place for seniors. Now, research suggests that the same idea applies to mental fitness. Just like exercise keeps the body in shape, a mental workout keeps the mind sharp.

This knowledge prompted a wave of crosswords, Sudoku and word searches, all of which work the brain but fail to challenge all the skills most commonly affected by aging.

A cognitive training program provides an innovative approach to mental fitness by presenting brain training in a social atmosphere, something not offered by newspaper puzzles, or individual computer programs, or big screen sit-and-get programs offered to groups. Offering a hands-on program in a group setting creates friendly competition and peer accountability, reducing the risk of mental decline due to social isolation. This combination of brain training, socialization, and enhanced awareness, maximizes the impact on overall health, completing a wellness package!

Research focused on neuroplasticity and its implications for executive function and cognition has exploded in recent years in the fields of neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and education. There is mounting evidence that exercises designed to strengthen cognition correlate with physical changes in the brain.

The revelation that physical changes in the brain occur across the lifespan provides a biological basis supporting the use of high quality, effective cognitive training programs well after age 55.

Mental ability is not fixed, it turns out, nor planted firmly in our brains from birth. Rather, it can be forming, changing, and developing all throughout our lives – even well into the senior most years.      

There are specific games and activities that will help with the four most important areas of cognitive development. Those are memory, processing speed, focus and attention, and logic and reasoning. These are the four areas that start to decline ever so slightly as we age. All four of these cognitive areas, although separate, are intertwined. Issues with memory can be from the lack of focus and attention. So, by strengthening one skill you can increase the functioning of another.

It is important that there is an understanding of what is happening when you can’t remember where your keys are, or whether you closed the garage door, or what you were supposed to get at the grocery store. In many cases, it is simply lack of attention to what you are doing. Very often we do things without thinking and then when we try to remember we are unable to do so. There are ways to help with focusing so that the memory is functioning better. And there are ways to train the memory to remember more!

If you think of your brain as a muscle – just as you would go to the gym to strengthen your arms to improve your golf swing, it is important to exercise your brain in specific cognitive areas in order to maintain an active and functioning lifestyle. Completing a task and staying on task are both areas where we sometimes lose ground as we age. Those cognitive skills can be trained in the same way.

As tedious as doing a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle might seem – it is so important because it exercises cognitive areas that tend to decline with age. Puzzles are food for the brain – no matter what age you are!  Putting a jigsaw puzzle together calls upon many cognitive skills, providing you with a great brain work out. As you work to match shape, color, and design, you are giving your occipital lobe a workout.  As you search through all of the pieces to find the correct ones you are strengthening your visual scanning abilities. 

It’s also great for spatial reasoning. Putting puzzles together enhances hand-eye coordination and can strengthen and improve fine motor skills and dexterity in young and old hands. The steps it takes to complete a jigsaw puzzle incorporate elements of sequencing, planning, logic, strategy, and problem-solving skills.  These skills require the work of your prefrontal cortex located in the frontal lobe.   You may not realize it – but jigsaw puzzles exercise your short term and visual memory.  Jigsaw puzzles are relaxing and can provide you with a sense of accomplishment which releases dopamine in your brain.  And any time you spend focusing on one activity helps improve an ever-waning attention span. 

Jigsaw puzzles are only one exercise in an arsenal of specific exercises selected to enhance cognitive skills and slow mental aging. It is so very important to exercise your brain throughout your life! And there is an excellent way to do exercise your brain through specific games and activities, social interactions, repetition, and competition!