Keep Your Brain Fit

Learning is a physical activity.  When you learn something new, the structure of your brain actually changes. Because of this understanding, “Brain Fitness” has become more and more popular.

You have known for a long time that you need to exercise your body. “Move it or lose it” has become an accepted phrase. “Use it or lose it”, “life long learning” and “brain plasticity” are some new phrases that are now used when discussing brain function. Your brain benefits from exercise just as much as your muscles do. Your brain can be trained, no matter what your age.  Brain fitness is not just for seniors. Youngsters benefit as well.  Exercising your brain enhances your learning process and protects your brain against decline.  Brain exercises help to improve your memory, concentration and information processing.

Neurofeedback is a form of brain exercise. It increases the “strength” of targeted areas of your brain. We use sensors to measure your brain activity and give your brain feedback on how to change its function. This exercise helps your brain to change patterns that keep you from performing at your peak potential.

Everyone can benefit from neurofeedback. Athletes use it to improve their performance.  Executives use neurofeedback to stay sharp and creative. Others use neurofeedback to help with disorders that are holding them back.

Take your brain to its own private gym. Create your own brain fitness workout. Be creative, try new things and enjoy exercising your brain. Here are some simple exercises beyond the obvious crosswords and word searches to try:

· Do math problems in your head. Holding numbers in your mind and moving them around is great exercise. This is a great car game to play with kids of all ages. For very young children, start with easy word problems such as: “If I gave you one apple and then gave you two more, how many would you have?” Continue on with the story, “If an elephant came along and ate 2 of your apples, how many would you have left?”

· Read out loud. Reading out loud uses more of your brain than reading silently. Reading out loud to kids exercises your brain and theirs! Take turns and you will reap the benefits of listening.

· Learn to knit or crochet. Knitting and crocheting are both neuro-protective and have been shown to reduce memory loss. The process of creating a project requires concentration, counting and dexterity.

· Learn a new song. Learning lyrics and melody will increase the acetylcholine in your brain. Acetylcholine is a chemical that helps build your brain and improve your memory.

· Do regular tasks differently. Try getting dressed with your eyes closed or brushing your teeth using your other hand. Put the silverware away in a different order or rearrange your desk so you don’t automatically just grab for what you want. This will increase your attention.

Crosswords and word searches are still good choices for brain exercise, but be sure to add in other activities for a complete workout. You don’t just exercise one set of muscles over and over when you exercise your body. You do a variety of exercise to give your body a complete and balanced workout. Do the same for your brain.