Whole brain fitness? What is it?
So you are a boomer, suddenly aware of your age, retirement looming, with intimate knowledge of the changes inside your once athletic body. You are more concerned about "senior moments", and word recall, for example, and you are looking for tools that will keep you functional all the way out to the end, for yourself, your mate perhaps, your grandchildren, or, in my case for my small children and my wife.
You are worried about the state of the environment, and the world, and you want to continue to contribute, find a way to leave a legacy.
Lucky for us that the technology that has advanced so rapidly in our life span has provided us with tools that can point the way toward whole brain fitness as we move into our senior years.
We have available ways to exercise mental muscles that no generation before us has ever had.
We can execise our attention, our stress management capabilities, memory, visual/perceptual processing, auditory processes, and language, motor coordination, and executive functions, such as planning and problem solving.
We will be able to demonstrate improved attention, memory, thinking and stress management skills.
Until recent years, neuroscience doctrine did not know about processes such as neuroplasticity or neurogenesis, which mean that my behaviors create changes in my brain.
For example, in 1991, when I went back to graduate school, I was proud of not knowing how to use a computer, and now I can even type. (Spelling is still poor). So there is a new brain map in my motor cortex which began when I started typing, at age 43, which changed the sensory motor cortex. If I stop typing, that brain map will eventually fade.
Exercising your body facilitates the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus, which is where memories are laid down. That is neurogenisis, or the birthing of new brain cells.
And we have available research and programs which we can use to facilitate our own "mental muscles" exercise.
But whole brain fitness does not happen in a vacuum. While I will comment on some recently, and in one case, newly available, programs a little further down this page, it is important to know that a whole brain fitness program must include physical exercise, nutritional excellence (get rid of the high fructose corn syrup) and active stress management tools.
Hans Diehl of the CHIP program has demonstrated that it is possible to make very powerful changes in medical issues simply by eating food as grown, and picked locally, I want to add. See the book titled "Reversing Disease With Knife and Fork".
And the nutrition in eating food as grown, including vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytochemicals, and neutricueticals is part of what is required as the platform for whole brain fitness.
Be sure to see why Omega 3's from cold water (wild) fish are so important. The synapses across which neurotransmitters travel is composed of omega 3's in large proportion. If I want my neural networks to fire together cleanly, I need to make sure they are full of omega 3 fish oil.
Of course, you exercise, at the YMCA, or even walking in your neighborhood, but you get cardiovascular work regularly. I see one of my neighbors out walking around our 1/2 mile circle twice daily, and I saw her mowing her lawn yesterday.
And your stress management skills range from low to high tech. The cheapest and most effective stress management skill is still deep breathing. In fact, Mantak Chia says that the way for men to become multi-orgasmic is through mastering various breathing and attentional skills.
High tech stress management skills utilize heart rate variability biofeedback skills, and in a matter of a few practices you can make the time between your heart beats very consistent, which is a feel good experience, and you can recue that internal response on demand whenever you feel like it.
And last but not least, while physical exercise increases the brain's rate of neurogenesis, it is mental exercise that increases the rate at which those new cells survive.
Both physical exercise and the challenge from the mental exercise increase the secretion of nerve growth factor, which helps the neurons grow and stay healthy.
The new frontier in brain fitness involves customizable computer training. No special computer skills are necessary for most software programs, and the interactive nature of the programs allows the creation of personalized training routines that hone in on improving weaknesses and nurturing strengths.
Computer programs are unique in that they present a wide variety of tasks at many different skill levels to challenge all the mental muscles.
Tests may be visual auditory, or linguistic.
The key components to a very good computer training are novelty, variety, and stretching practice. These components are hard to control in traditional activities, if the crossword is too difficult, we give up. When the program meets me where I am and gives me a little more challenge, I stretch to meet it and continue successfully.
I know that in using Brain Builder 3.0, my digit span has incrementally increased from 3 or 4 to now 7 , even 8 digits that I can see or hear and repeat back quickly. All in about 2 months of training. The task has to be at an optimal level of challenge to motivate and push us without creating too much stress.
And for technological tools, you cannot beat these for whole brain fitness.
Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro - Software that makes you smarter
The best high tech stress management tool in the world. I have been using this in my practice with anger management and domestic violence clients since 2001. Without fail they are intrigued, and some are actually very accomplished at this. I love cuing a coherent heart rate and the feeling of contentment that comes with it whenever I feel like it.
When I was beginning my personal growth journey, a wise person told me that when I was feeling resentful or afraid or sad, that I should remember the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was ready to feel better. That phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.
Would you share what you are most grateful for? Your story could be just what another person is searching for to renew themselves? Thanks.