Have you heard the term Brain Fitness yet? If not, you probably will. There is an emerging industry on maintaining or even increasing brain function as we age. The industry is still in its infancy, and backed by emerging science pointing to methods we can use to stimulate our brains. If you picture a brain diagram, these programs can increase the connectivity between different brain parts.
The timing is perfect as well, since a large percentage of the population is increasing in age and the needs of the baby boomers are largely driving the economy. One thing baby boomers want is to keep themselves out of a mental funk. There are companies that are nicely establishing themselves in this market. For example, Sharp Brains and Posit Science have created some good product lines already.
There's more than meets the eye.
I want to offer an expanded definition of Brain Fitness. Although the term is not yet in the dictionary, one definition for the word fitness from Webster is “good health or physical condition, especially as the result of exercise and proper nutrition". I think this should apply to Brain Fitness as well.
The Brain is a very unique organ because it is the only organ that is both physical and mental. The mental component of the brain, the mind, is the target of the current Brain Fitness industry. Programs that increase brain function and brain activity will stimulate new connections and new circuits and help keep the brain vibrant.
But the ability of these new circuits and connections to form also depends on the physical health of the brain, which plays by many of the same rules as the heart, lungs, liver, spleen, kidney's, etc. The physical health of the brain is dependent upon quality nutrition, physical activity and adequate sleep – just like the rest of the body.
We need Mental and Physical Health
I have previously addressed these factors as well as the factors that contribute to mental improvements. Think of it this way. If you put one of the top racecar drivers in the world, say, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. , into an old Ford Pinto and threw him into a race, could he compete? No. But put him into his high performance #8 car and he'll rip up the track.
The driver, in this case, is like your mind. The skills, the knowledge and the speed of decision-making are what Brain Fitness products will improve. The car is like the physical brain. If you don't have a high performance machine then the most skilled driver will not stand a chance.
This is not a perfect analogy because Brain Fitness programs do help create new connections that enhance the physical brain. But you also need proper nutrition to supply the best raw ingredients, physical activity to improve the delivery systems for those ingredients and adequate sleep to help keep those systems in tune.
In order to maintain healthy brains through our elder years we must focus on both of these approaches. But don't make the mistake of thinking that this is only for the baby boomer generation. What we do as kids and young adults all contributes to how efficiently our mental machines will work throughout our lives.
Copyright (c) 2007 The Brain Code LLC
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