Last time, I shared information from a journal article on maintaining brain health for life. It identified 5 areas of your lifestyle that are important to keeping your brain as healthy as possible: physical activity, mental stimulation, spirituality, nutrition, and socialization. This time, I want to focus on mental stimulation as a means to preserve cognitive abilities. With so many brain training options out there, how do you know what really works?
Knowing what to do that helps you with your particular needs takes some effort. Some people solve crossword or Sudoku puzzles, but those do nothing for others. The research shows that what works best is different for everybody. In my first post this month, I discussed tailor-made approaches to successful aging. Applying the same “no cookie-cutter” concept to brain fitness, I found some information on how to find what works best for your circumstances and condition.
Alvano Fernandez, co-founder of SharpBrains and co-author of the book The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness, describes a variety of brain training tools. There are mental exercises and new brain fitness techniques, some that you pay for and some that are free. Whichever system you select, you will need to go beyond simply doing more crossword puzzles.
Fernandez points out that no shoe fits all. Different techniques work best for different needs and different groups. Rather than provide a single prescription, he suggests that we need to understand how the brain works, review the pillars of a healthy lifestyle, examine the pieces of what he calls “the brain fitness jigsaw puzzle,” identify our own weak points, and then select the research-supported solutions that will best work for us.
After covering each piece in the brain fitness puzzle, Fernandez describes how individuals can become their own “brain fitness coach” to motivate ourselves to keep up the mental exercise we’ve chosen. Most of us have heard the phrase “use it or lose it,” but we may not know exactly how to use our brains in order to avoid losing its function. Fernandez won’t endorse any single option, but provides enough information from recent research to empower readers to make the best choices for themselves. This book can help you take control of your brain fitness and enable you to keep using it for years to come.