There has been a lot of recent buzz about brain fitness. A New York Times editorial printed today states:
When tested five years later, these participants [in a cognitive training study] had less of a decline in the skill they were trained in than did a control group that received no cognitive training. The payoff from mental exercise seemed far greater than we are accustomed to getting for physical exercise — as if 10 workouts at the gym were enough to keep you fit five years later.
If further studies show that mental exercises can improve everyday functioning, doctors may need to prescribe such training, senior centers may want to set up “brain gyms,” and aging Americans would be wise to do brain-stretching activities. For this purpose, even the Medicare prescription drug program, which critics deem too confusing for many older people to navigate, could prove an unexpected blessing. Spend 10 hours mastering its intricacies today and you could be a lot sharper than your compatriots five years from now.
To read the complete, original study published in JAMA, read The Benefits of Brain Exercises/Brain Fitness.
IHRSA, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, printed this article on mental muscles with suggestions on how to add brain workouts to your traditional physical workouts. Essentially, humans need both physical and mental exercise for good brain health.
Scientific American also wrote an article on Brain Gain: Mental Exercise Makes Elderly Minds More Fit. One of the study co-authors is quoted as saying
“To drive this effect, you have to practice things that you don’t like or things you don’t regularly practice,” Marsiske says. “We hope to find ways of making these training programs more widely available to people and begin to encourage something more like mental exercise.”
As we have mentioned before when talking about key ingredients for a brain fitness program, you need: novelty, variety, and stretching practice (increasing challenge over time). Computerized programs do the best job of reliably meeting these criteria, but doing anything is better than doing nothing!
If you are still uncertain as to what is Brain Fitness, then feel free to download a complimentary copy of our newly released Brain Fitness for Sharp Brains: Your New New Year Resolution. We wrote this guide as a plain English introduction to the concept, science, and practice of brain fitness by answering 25 questions we have received over the last four months.