Wellness Coaching for Brain Health and Fitness

We just received this quote of how a major health sys­tem is using our Brain Fit­ness Mar­ket Report:

At Sut­ter Health Part­ners we rec­og­nize the impor­tance of brain health and how much the health of the brain and the body are inter­de­pen­dent.  The mar­ket report helped us fur­ther tar­get our coach­ing efforts to inte­grate brain fit­ness and upgrade our entire coach­ing plat­form.  It is easy to read and gives you the indus­try per­spec­tive in a thor­ough yet con­cise man­ner.  I high­ly rec­om­mend it!”

– Mar­garet Sabin, CEO of Sut­ter Health Part­ners and VP, New Prod­uct Devel­op­ment, at Sut­ter Health.

You may won­der, “what is the link between  well­ness coach­ing and brain fitness”?

In prac­tice, good health and well­ness coach­es pro­vide excel­lent brain health advice, giv­en that the areas they focus on (nutri­tion, phys­i­cal exer­cise, stress man­age­ment) do play an impor­tant role in main­tain­ing our brains in top shape.

Addi­tion­al­ly, pio­neers  such as Sut­ter Health Part­ners are adding a Brain “lens” to their work. How?

First, by bet­ter under­stand­ing and explain­ing the brain ben­e­fits of what they already do, in order to pro­vide addi­tion­al moti­va­tion to stick with healthy behav­iors. For exam­ple, most peo­ple will be able to recite mul­ti­ple ben­e­fits of mod­er­ate car­dio­vas­cu­lar exer­cise. But how many know  that it can also con­tribute to neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis ‑the cre­ation of new neu­rons — in adult brains?

Sec­ond, by start­ing to offer brain fit­ness guide­lines to clients who want too go beyond cross­word puz­zles and sudoku.

I had a great train­ing ses­sion with a num­ber of Sut­ter Health coach­es last week — let me sum­ma­rize some of the main points we covered.

What is Brain Fitness? 

The gen­er­al state of feel­ing alert, in con­trol, pro­duc­tive, espe­cial­ly as the result of men­tal and phys­i­cal exer­cise and prop­er nutri­tion. Hav­ing the men­tal abil­i­ties required to func­tion in soci­ety, in our occu­pa­tions, in our com­mu­ni­ties. It is not about “IQ”. It is about skills such as atten­tion, mem­o­ry, emo­tion­al self-reg­u­la­tion, plan­ning, man­ag­ing distractions…

Can Brain Fit­ness be mea­sured today? 

Yes, but, today, only by neu­ropsy­chol­o­gists and med­ical pro­fes­sion­als. We expect to see cheap­er and wide­ly avail­able assess­ments (per­haps via a 30–40 minute set of online assess­ments) over the next few years, thanks to the work under­way to make qual­i­ty com­put­er-based assess­ments avail­able to a grow­ing num­ber of clin­i­cians, insur­ance com­pa­nies, sports teams and the military.

What is the research back­ground that explains the emer­gence of the brain fit­ness field?

1- New par­a­digm in brain research: today it is clear that the brain retains a life­long capac­i­ty to change respond­ing to expe­ri­ence (neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty), paving the way for lifestyle-based interventions.
2- Neu­roimag­ing tools such as fMRI enable, for the first time i his­to­ry, the sci­en­tif­ic explo­ration of the live brain.
3- The brain has a core set of brain func­tions-or “men­tal mus­cles”. Our vocab­u­lary must expand beyond “mem­o­ry” and  “intel­li­gence” if we are to help move “Use It or Lose It” from the­o­ry to practice.
4. Some brain func­tions improve as we age – oth­ers typ­i­cal­ly decline. And there is major vari­abil­i­ty among groups of individuals.
5- The four “pil­lars” of brain health: bal­anced nutri­tion, phys­i­cal exer­cise, stress man­age­ment and brain exercise.
6- Cross-train­ing the brain builds up the Brain Reserve.
7. Well-direct­ed men­tal exer­cise (med­i­ta­tion, cog­ni­tive ther­a­py, soft­ware-based pro­grams) can be effec­tive to train spe­cif­ic skills and pro­vide need­ed men­tal stimulation.
8. Cog­ni­tive assess­ments will become crit­i­cal to iden­ti­fy bot­tle­necks and mea­sure progress.
9. The ear­li­er we start, the bet­ter. But it is nev­er too late to start.
10. This is still an emerg­ing field: much more research needs to be done.

One of the top 10 pre­dic­tions on the brain fitness/ brain train­ing mar­ket we includ­ed in our our Brain Fit­ness Mar­ket Report said that:

10. Brain train­ing will be added to cor­po­rate well­ness and lead­er­ship ini­tia­tives. Large employ­ers with exist­ing cor­po­rate well­ness and lead­er­ship pro­grams will intro­duce brain fit­ness spe­cif­ic pro­grams aimed not only at improved health out­comes but also at increased pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and cog­ni­tive per­for­mance in the workplace.”

Coach­es will play a major role in help­ing clients nav­i­gate this field, as ini­tia­tives such as Sut­ter Health’s indi­cate. Stay tuned!


  1. Elizabeth Bester on October 1, 2008 at 11:38

    How do we become brain coach­es? Do you offer a course?

  2. Alvaro Fernandez on October 3, 2008 at 3:48

    Hel­lo Eliz­a­beth, what we do is to work with health sys­tems to train their exist­ing staff/ coach­es, we do not offer courses/ train­ing to indi­vid­u­als. So, if you are affil­i­at­ed with some orga­ni­za­tion, please con­tact us or have some­one do so. Thank you

  3. Corinne Gediman on October 15, 2008 at 7:01

    Hel­lo, I have been work­ing in the field of brain fit­ness under the men­tor­ship of neu­ropy­schol­o­gist Dr. Fran­cis Crinel­la (UC-Irvine). I am a pub­lished author of three books on mem­o­ry improve­ment and brain fit­ness (Rut­ledge Hill Press, and Barnes & Noble Ster­ling) My com­pa­ny brain­fit inc is cur­rent­ly design­ing an on-line brain fit­ness casu­al game for the down­load­able mar­kets. I am also a cor­po­rate train­er of 25 years. My asso­ciate and I would like to get cer­ti­fied as brain fit­ness coach­es. We cur­rent­ly have glob­al cor­po­rate accounts in Envi­ron­ment, Health, and Safe­ty. I am also look­ing into enrolling in Har­vard’s new grad­u­ate pro­gram in this field. Please advise. Kind Regards, Corinne Ged­i­man, Pres­i­dent, Brain­fit, Inc

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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