Brain Fitness Gym
What are the "machines' that one should find in a brain fitness gym? Computers? Sudoku? NYT Crossword puzzle?
Or Will we use free weights? Nautilus machines? Treadmills? Elipitical trainers?
Surprisingly enough, we will find plenty of the latter types of machines, and at the training table, we will find chocolate and chillies, and well, sex is good for the brain too, but that happens in a different gym.
And why do we need weights and treadmills? Well it turns out that when we exercise, we produce internal pain relievers that are called endorphins and those endorphins have an impact on aging and brain health.
Take a look at this, from www.quietsafe.org
(1). Endorphins enhance our immune system: When endorphins are secreted, they activate natural killer cells (NK cells) and thereby increase our immune system. Under stress, your immunocompetence is reduced remarkably. NK cells are likely to lose their effect under stress. NK cells, which take responsibility for the immune system by killing defective cells, also have the ability to kill cancer cells.
(2). Endorphins block the lesion of blood vessel: As the endorphins are secreted more and more, the shrunken blood vessels return to a normal state allowing blood to flow in a normal manner. Most adult disease start from clogged blood vessels. Endorphins help to improve the circulation of blood.
(3). Endorphins have anti-aging effects by removing Superoxide: The oxygen coming into the body from breathing can change into a Superoxide. This is one of the biggest enemies for humans, causing diseases and aging. Endorphins can remove this harmful Superoxide by facilitating the production of 'SOD' (Superoxide Dismutase). This is possible because the endorphins can keep the brain cells young and healthy. SOD is the enzyme which neutralizes the toxicity of the harmful Superoxide. Therefore endorphins have anti-aging effects.
(4). Endorphins are anti-stress hormones: The ability to cope with the stress is in proportion to the endorphins levels we have in our body. We will encounter great difficulties in removing our stress unless sufficient amounts of endorphins are released.
(5). Endorphins have a pain-relieving effect: Our nervous system secretes neuro-transmitters when it receives the signal of pain. Once the endorphins are released at that moment of pain, endorphins combine with endorphin receptors on the neuron, which hinders the first neuro-transmitters from being secreted.
(6). Endorphins help improve your memory: You can improve your memory by the help of endorphins because they can keep the brain cells young and healthy. They will help you to maintain a harmonious relationship with your colleagues. You will also be able to think creatively and have more endurance.
So Now what? I think I'll go work out now.
Then I'll have dinner with chilies.
Followed by chocolates.
...(Endorphins, natural opiates that are released by the brain in increased amounts when eating chocolate, thereby elevating one's mood and reducing pain)
Accompanied by nice music--maybe something written by Mozart.
Then it's off to bed.
But not alone.
May the Endorphins be with you.
So how do I get endorphins into my blood stream regularly? Regular exercise helps, and it doesn't have
So how do I get endorphins into my blood stream regularly? Regular exercise helps, and it doesn't have to be of the world class variety. In fact, after three hours of exercise per week, walking, for three months, brain volume increased to the point that brains in this study looked to be three years younger.
There are four pillars to a successful brain fitness gym.
1. Stress Management
2. Physical Exercise
3. Challenging Learning
Physical execise might involve something expensive and complicated or it could be as simple as going to mow the lawn. Since we have a big lawn, I will be pushing the lawn mower and walking for an hour or two, depending on how much I want to do.
I also like the elliptical trainer, the treadmill, and the stair master at my local YMCA. And I use the free weights for about 40 minutes per week, to make sure my 60 year old muscles get flexed.
So a brain fitness gym does not have to be complicated, as long as it has chocolate. (for the endorphins).
Oh, and for the stress reduction, you should look closely at breathing techniques for low tech or HeartMath for high tech stress reduction. It is biofeedback, and once I have learned it, I can cue the physiology of heart rate variability coherence whenever I want.
High Tech Brain Training
I like to read, and I have a computer on all day, so when I find myself drifting in my concentration, I will do some Lumosity Tools. I choose them because of the option to subscribe on a monthly basis, and I suspect that with all the research going on, that they will be able to update their program more effectively than the folks whose program I buy and have sent to my house. Just a personal preference, but I would rather do this than puzzles or suduko. I do love to read and challenge myself that way.
Stress Management-High Tech
Believe it or not, the cheapest and perhaps the best way to reduce stress is to regulate your breathing. If I can remember to keep my breathing deep and regular, a number of stress markers fall into line. However, I have learned over the years to breathe shallowly and that actually helps along the stress chemistry in my body. But if I want a tool to practice with, for my brain gym, then there is not better tool than this. I have been using this with my domestic violence and anger management clients for years with good success, and I love to practice it also. Once you have learned the tool, and moved through the various challenge levels, you will be able to cue the physiology with a thought, so you can practice every five minutes for two heart beats, or three heart beats, for example? Just like repetitions at the gym.
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