The newest fitness craze doesn’t involve weights, cardio exercise or even getting off the couch, in fact the only muscles that get a workout are your thumbs.
There is a growing momentum around training for our most important body part, our brains.
With the incidence of conditions like dementia on the rise, it’s little wonder significant research is being done on what can done to prevent or reduce our risks, and now scientists have confirmed that we can actually build new neuronal connections there are a whole range of products hitting the market hoping to encourage and assist us to do just that.
The difference between these new programs and the ones that existed previously (I remember being in the grips of a serious Nintendo DS Brain Training addiction five or so years ago) is twofold. These new programs feed answers straight back into algorithms that not only modify your program based on your own results and goals, but draw from the global pool of data generated by all of the other users. Some products also combine the use of wearables which actually track the brain electrical activity and adjust your program accordingly.
The app I use starts with selecting the skills you particularly want to improve on (remembering names went straight to the top of my list) and then designs a program based those selections. You play five games each day, with the type and difficulty of the games updating based on your performance.
A rating screen shows which areas of brain function are your strongest, and ranks you against the global cohort of users. Problem solving and flexibility are my top scores with memory currently my worst, but I can see these moving as I work through the program.
My scores are definitely improving, but its early days yet so I’m waiting to see how that translates into actual improved brain function (If I run into you in person and can immediately remember your name you’ll know its been a success!).
We spend so much time and effort exercising to protect our hearts and strengthen our muscles, it makes perfect sense to make some time each day to do the same for our brains I’m excited to see if this emerging technology can indeed play a role in helping to prevent or delay conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, which have such a huge impact on not only the individual but also on their families and care givers.