Brain fitness is an approach to training the brain to perform at optimum levels and be sharp and strong even as old age acts to deteriorate your memory.
If you treat your brain like you do other parts of your body you’ll see that training and exercise can make a huge difference in how well your memory works, how fast you can think and use logic to find solutions to a variety of problems. Having a structured training fitness program for your brain will keep your mind fresh, active and capable of operating at an optimum level.
A major part of brain fitness involves playing a variety of brain games to train different areas of the brain. Even simple games such as puzzles, riddles, crossword games and even memory match card games can help stimulate parts of the brain that involve cognitive ability, logical problem solving, memory retention and other brain skills.
As with any exercise program it’s a good idea to have a well-rounded regimen so you hit all areas of brain training. The same way you shouldn’t just focus on your chest when you go to the gym you will also want to mix up your brain game challenges so you stimulate more than one area of your brain.
Exercises are based on the science of “neuroplasticity,” also called “brain plasticity.” Brain plasticity is your brain’s natural ability to remodel itself throughout life.
Throughout life, our brains successfully absorb a lot of information from our senses. But for most of us, including almost everyone over age 40, our brains could do better. When we’re in our 30s, six core trends begin to affect brain function. Over time, these have noticeable impacts on our memory, thinking, and focus. They include:
1.Brightness: “Tired” thinking and acting
Our brain slowly turns down its ‘dimmer switch’ as we get older. It can take longer for us to be sharp in our mornings, and we can often find ourselves having moments of inattention or drowsiness that frustrate our getting the most out of our days. Sleep or rest does not restore our liveliness as well as it used to!
2.Speed: Slower processing
Our brains gradually slow down—but the speed of information coming in from the senses (sights and sounds happening in our lives) does not. Over time, the brain begins to miss many details, making it more difficult to react to and remember what we saw or heard.
3.Accuracy: Missing the details
Like the grooves of an old record, the brain’s pathways often get fuzzier, scratchier, or even distorted. You cannot expect your brain to make a good recording of what is happening when there is so much noise on your sound track, or when your brain’s recording of what you are seeing is blurred and indistinct.
4.Recognition: Poorer understanding
We have to combine information in special ways to understand and correctly interpret those things we see or hear. Losing the ability to recognize an old friend or misinterpreting their facial expression or intent is a common problem in an older life. Retaining keen abilities to recognize and interpret what we are seeing and hearing are of high importance.
5.Clarity: Interference from a noisy world
In our youth, our brains were astoundingly good at cancelling out all of that noise that comes from the world, or that comes, as a barrage of disruptions, from a worrisome or distracted brain itself. But with age, interference starts to get in the way. This is partly due to a loss in our ability to really concentrate. It’s the true source of a lot of frustration, anxiety and error in an older life.
6.Recording: Poorer ability to control learning, or ‘rise to the occasion’
The brain uses chemicals called neuromodulators to determine what information is important to record and process. With each passing decade, our brains produce fewer neuromodulators. A deficit of neuromodulators hinders the brain’s ability to record new information—in other words, its ability to learn and remember. If you want to continue to grow and flourish, you need learning- and memory-control machinery that is up to the task.
Training your brain is just as important as keeping physically fit. Studies show that with as little as one hour of brain training per week, you can improve the cognitive functions you use every day.
We like to keep our bodies active, but why don’t we invest the same amount of care in our minds?