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.