Let’s Define Brain Fitness and Physical Fitness

Bev­er­ly San­born, Vice Pres­i­dent of Pro­gram Devel­op­ment at Bel­mont Senior Liv­ing and sched­uled 2011 Sharp­Brains Sum­mit Speak­er, could not final­ly speak at the Sum­mit (she was very well replaced by col­league Jeff DeBevec), but for­tu­nate­ly we can share her thought­ful answers to the fol­low­ing four crit­i­cal questions.

1. How would you define “brain fit­ness” vs. “phys­i­cal fitness”?

Brain fit­ness and phys­i­cal fit­ness are inter­linked. Each enhances the oth­er and both are essen­tial com­po­nents of suc­cess­ful aging. As we age, the abil­i­ty to cope with inex­orable chal­lenge to social-emo­tion­al-eco­nom­ic well-being is root­ed in hav­ing a high lev­el of men­tal alert­ness and a phys­i­cal body that func­tions effi­cient­ly. But fit­ness is not just a hap­py con­se­quence of a hardy gene pool. Fit­ness for both brain and brawn requires a com­mit­ted effort, a lot of stretch and sweat, and the con­stant push to reach beyond the com­fort zone.

2. Where do you see a sig­nif­i­cant oppor­tu­ni­ty for brain fit­ness inno­va­tion to improve the lives of a large num­ber of peo­ple in the next decade?

As research defines with greater speci­fici­ty the most effec­tive pro­to­col for main­tain­ing brain fit­ness (and thus delay­ing the onset of demen­tia), the most sig­nif­i­cant oppor­tu­ni­ty for inno­va­tion lies in how to com­mu­ni­cate this knowl­edge to the largest num­ber of peo­ple, par­tic­u­lar­ly to resource-poor, rur­al areas world­wide. Com­put­er tech­nol­o­gy and the media will be the locus of innovation.

3. What is the one big chal­lenge to the innovation?

Research mon­ey needs to eval­u­ate tech­no­log­i­cal, media, and train­ing pro­to­col in the con­text of effec­tive, low-cost, prac­ti­cal pro­grams for home use. This research should address best prac­tices that trans­late research find­ings into brain and body fit­ness programs.

4. What are your main activ­i­ties in the field and where can peo­ple learn more?

Bel­mont Vil­lage pro­vides inde­pen­dent liv­ing, assist­ed liv­ing and demen­tia care in 19 set­tings through­out Cal­i­for­nia, Chica­go, and the south­ern Unit­ed States. We have devel­oped a range of pro­grams that trans­late research into brain fit­ness oppor­tu­ni­ties for res­i­dents at all lev­els of abil­i­ty: from no dis­cern­able mem­o­ry loss to late stage demen­tia. Ours is a ther­a­peu­tic, inte­grat­ed, Just Right Chal­lenge approach that encom­pass­es a mix of cog­ni­tive, cre­ative and phys­i­cal activ­i­ties offered dai­ly in struc­tured social groups. We are in the process of pilot-test­ing an eval­u­a­tion of these pro­grams, with plans to engage in a full-scale eval­u­a­tion using an exper­i­men­tal design.

Please vis­it belmontvillage.com for more infor­ma­tion. We encour­age you to vis­it often, as our site will be expand­ing dur­ing the year.

PS: The 2011 Sharp­Brains Sum­mit (March 30th — April 1st) was an excel­lent event thanks to the sim­ply incred­i­ble ros­ter of Speak­ers, Par­tic­i­pants, Spon­sors and Part­ners involved — we will be shar­ing major impres­sions and take-aways in weeks to come.


  1. Aicardi on April 15, 2011 at 8:42

    WOW!!She real­ly change our mind fit­ness i am agree with him she have great job done.
    Thank you for post.

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.

Top Articles on Brain Health and Neuroplasticity

Top 10 Brain Teasers and Illusions


Subscribe to our e-newsletter

* indicates required

Got the book?