In a recent interview by Bottom Line/Health, our own Dr. Cynthia Green was asked to suggest her best brain workouts. It’s not what most of us think. Crossword puzzles, online classes and other such activities are not necessarily the best for improving memory and preserving overall cognitive function. The latest research reveals that it takes more than quiet puzzle-solving and streaming lectures.
In fact, some activities that we once thought were time wasters may actually help build intellectual capacity and other cognitive functions. And, the most important steps to keep your brain performing at optimal levels are lifestyle choices. Brain workouts that include getting aerobic exercise (at least 150 minutes per week), maintaining a healthy body weight, not smoking and eating a diet that emphasizes fruits and vegetables (low in refined sugar and white flour)
However, research now tells us that there is more to a healthy brain workout. You need to work against the clock. Games with a time limit force you to think quickly and with agility. Dr. Green’s favorite brain workouts include:
BRAINY COMPUTER GAMES: once thought to reduce one’s risk for dementia, recent evidence has not supported that claim. These programs do provide, however, a variety of activities that that may help improve intellectual performance, attention, memory and mental flexibility. Once considered “brain-numbing” activities, recent research shows that action video games can promote mental focus, flexible thinking and decision-making and problem-solving skills.
APPs FOR YOUR BRAIN: a software application you can use on a smartphone or similar electronic device has several good options. Words With Friends allows you to play a Scrabble-like game against your friends. Word Streak with Friends is a timed find-a-word game. And Elevate was named Apple’s Best App of 2014, a structured game environment that feels more like a test, than a game, focusing on reading, writing and math skills-still a good brain challenge.
If you’d rather not stare at the screen of a computer or electronic device, here are some good options: SET is a fast-paced card game that tests your visual perception skills. It is the winner of numerous “best Game” awards. Playing a musical instrument, like drumming, requires attention and a keen sense of timing. Research has demonstrated that some forms of drumming, count as a low-to-moderate-intensity activity that may reduce blood pressure, which helps protect the brain from blood vessel damage. Meditation improves cognitive function and sensory processing and promotes mental focus. 30 minutes a day has been linked to greater blood flow to the brain and increased gray matter0associated with positive emotions, memory and decision-making.
CYNTHIA GREEN, PhD, Author, founder and president of Memory Arts and one of America’s foremost memory fitness and brain health experts is available for speeches for your upcoming event. Contact Jo Cavender 503-345-9164 ext 1 or by email jo@SpeakersOnHealthcare.com