AT THE BRAIN GYM

Exercise keeps your brain young. That’s what the experts are telling us.

Adding brain exercise to physical exercise in how highly recommended. With a more nimble, oxygenated brain, the chances of developing memory loss, and other age related difficulties, are lessened. However, what is a fitness exercise for the brain? Used loosely, the term might include everything we do during waking hours. Perhaps the analogy of physical exercise helps. While walking is helpful, running leads to higher levels of fitness. In the same way, ordinary life experiences are helpful, but some exercises target cognitive processes directly.

I had the following experience in exploring this subject. I, for instance, enjoy solving one Sudoku puzzle a day, but that is not enough to count as a brain fitness exercise program. I inquired about what might be available to add to what I already do. What should be included in brain fitness exercises? Who develops these programs? Are they based on research? Where would I find them? I wasn’t aware of anyone I could ask. I hadn’t seen any brain gyms around.

Well, I discovered that brain gyms do exist, on-line. These are mainly commercial web sites that charge membership fees. I looked into: lumosity; brainTivity;, and MindSparke.

The testimonials are interesting for lumosity. Most of the users appear to be in their 20s and 30s. They say they have benefitted from the focus on attention; memory; speed; problem solving; and flexibility. I was surprized to see among the testimonials, a picture of one woman who was sitting with two large Bengal tigers inside their cage. She stated that she “liked a challenge.” Perhaps the developers of the program should add “common sense” to the categories in their program.

BrainTivity offers prizes for winning competitions in memory and attention. They say you can “get a full brain workout in only minutes.” If I am running late, can I get half a brain done in less time?

MindSparke states that they can help with your career, or test prep through “unparalleled training for your hippocampus.” Their program is “like a boot camp for the brain.”

I did find one on-line brain gym that targeted my age group: brain.AARP.org. I liked the fact that they offered a free trial. So I signed on to sample exercises designed to: focus on attention; increase brain speed; improve memory; enhance people skills; and sharpen intelligence.

In general, the programs I found do seem viable, well designed, and based on research protocols. I just wasn’t sure I wanted to join a brain gym. I already practice one frustrating eye-hand coordination exercise called golf.

Though it may not seem likely, a recent report suggested that playing ordinary video games might fend off degenerative brain processes. My grandkids tell me I have to get some game apps for my phone. Frankly, I find myself thinking about getting rid of the flock of seagulls who gather on my boat this time of the year, rather than angry birds on my phone. Candy Crush Saga? What kind of game can that be?

There are free collections of brain puzzles on-line to practice reasoning and logic. You will find them on “Addicting Games.com.” Some of these are fun. Some are frustrating. Some are impossible!

After reviewing everything I had explored, I¬†knew there was only one course of action. The benefit of exercise comes from regular and consistant practice, and having someone else with whom you can share the experience. So I’m heading for the AARP brain gym, rather than trying to put a program together myself.

Now if I can just talk some of my friends into joining…..without implying that their brains are getting…..uhmmm……fat.


Comments

AT THE BRAIN GYM — 1 Comment

  1. You were my psychology instructor in at Bridgewater State College 1968-1972. I enjoyed every course! I still find the brain and mind fascinating entities and continually look for ways to keep mine supple.

    My “brain gym” is a favorite activity; Sudoku! This year I discovered Words With Friends which you might like. Who would think that XI is a word! Play online with your friends.

    Thank you for being a terrific teacher and giving me a lifelong interest in psychology!

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