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The Real Brain Training Strategy: Put Down the Puzzle Book and Take a Hike

Guest post by Alexis Bonari

Brain fitness has become something of a craze, with Americans spending over $13 million on brain training software and games last year (Ambient Insight). The reason: yet another anti-aging, denial-ridden bout of paranoia has stricken the country, this time on the subject of retaining memory and reasoning abilities. In an effort to combat the inevitable effects of mental aging, consumers have been purchasing puzzles with alarming gusto. However, behind the marketing ploys, the question of efficacy remains unanswered: What is the best way to preserve mental acuity?

Don’t Be Puzzled

Although many claim that crossword puzzles or Sudoku keep them sharp, studies show that the few (if any) positive results from these types of brain exercise are short-lived. The best way to achieve long-term results is simple and, ironically, free: aerobic exercise.

Scientists Trump Marketers

Reported in Newsweek, scientists at the University of Illinois have found that three vigorous, 40-minute walks per week over a six-month period produce measurable and lasting improvements in memory and reasoning. Other positive results include increased production of new brain neurons and white matter, or the connective tissue between neurons. This means that people who engage in regular aerobic exercise can experience better executive function, which governs activities like planning.

How to Win at the Brain Game

While running away from a problem is usually ill-advised, it’s the professionally recommended solution to the issue of deteriorating mental function. For those who want to invest in successful brain training, a good pair of cross-trainers tops the list of products to purchase. General health benefits, such as improved lung, heart, muscle, and immune system function, are additional reasons to take brain exercise literally.

Kramer AF, Bherer L, Colcombe SJ, Dong W, Greenough WT 2010 Environmental Influences on Cognitive and Brain Plasticity During Aging. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci (2004) 59 (9): M940-M957. doi: 10.1093/gerona/59.9.M940

About The Author:

Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at onlinedegrees.org, researching areas of online degree programs. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lumosity Brain May 24, 2011, 5:45 am

    Well, anything you do to increase overall body fitness is bound to help. From my own experience I have seen positive results in mental agility from practicing mind games.

  • TJ April 16, 2012, 1:15 pm

    Using brain training games has helped me improve my brains functioning on many levels. I have now started a blog to follow my progress at http://www.realbraintraining.blogspot.com. Please come take a look if you are interested in seeing the best brain training games available, and how you can get a free trial to try real brain training for yourself. I have posted lots of screenshots and videos of the most powerful brain training games on the interenet. I know you won’t be disappointed.