When we think of exercise, we immediately conjure images of physical activity. Of course, keeping an in-shape, fit body is key to keeping your mind in shape. So before you start on this new trend in exercise, consider your current state of health. Some of the things you can do to get read for neurobics are simple things like: getting your teeth cleaned, seeing a podiatrist, and possibly getting an EKG for your heart.
You may imagine being on a treadmill, trips to the gym, enrollment in aerobics classes, after work jogs, and endless amounts of sit-ups; but not all necessary exercise is physical in nature. In fact, the latest trend in exercise involves exercising your brain, and you’ll be surprised of the benefits this non-physical form of exercise can provide.
The term neurobics combines “neuro,” referring to your nervous system (in this case the central nervous system powerhouse – the brain), and aerobics, a popular cardio form of exercise. This name was rather cleverly chosen to be descriptive of the type of exercise that is being conducted. Neurobics is the exercise of the brain, and the goal is to increase overall cognitive function, as well as prevent or slow the progression of neurological diseases.
It’s a widely known fact that cognitive functioning declines as we age. It becomes harder to recall information, as well as harder to store new information. Dementia is one result of the effect that aging can have on the brain. But, what if I told you that brain functioning didn’t have to decline as you age? That problematic and heartbreaking conditions like dementia, and even Alzheimer’s didn’t have to happen, or at least progress in the way they do? Do I have your attention now? While neurobics has become a sort of buzz word in health, these are the real reasons behind the movement. Exercising your brain really is important. It’s just as important, if not more important, than exercising your body.
How Neurobics Works
Neurobics work by engaging in a series of exercises that call on various parts of your brain, thus creating brain activity throughout the brain. This routine exercise is meant to activate areas of the brain that you may not use on a regular basis, and this in turn creates a brain that is more apt to meet the challenges of learning, recalling, and creativity. Essentially, it’s more ready to do anything you ask of it. Have you ever seen a face and struggled to recall the name of the person behind it? Neurobics hones your brain powers, making you more easily able to recall that name. Better yet, it makes learning new information easier as well. It isn’t that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, it’s just that the old dog has to study harder because their brain isn’t set up to learn anymore. If we keep the brain ready to learn, that old dog can learn new tricks throughout life. Whether you’re 30 or 70, you’ll be better able to both learn and retain. Isn’t this what we’re ultimately all looking for?
Making Neurobics Work For You
In order for a neurobic exercise to work for you, it has to meet several requirements. For one, your brain exercise has to force you to use one of your five senses in a new way, or at least a way you don’t regularly use it in. You can do this with any of the five senses, and the best idea is to do different exercises that use them all at one point or another. However, try to start by calling upon senses you’re not used to using. For example, try aromatherapy while you’re listening to music.
Next, an effective neurobic exercise has to out of the norm. You can’t exercise your brain doing what you always do. Just like your body gets used to doing the same exercises over and over again, your brain gets used to doing the same activities over and over again. So, you have to break out of the norm in order to shake your brain up and make it really pay attention. Try a new activity, take up painting, drawing, skiing, tennis, anything! It just needs to be something to make your brain do something new.
Lastly, start being more spontaneous. This sort of goes hand in hand with the last neurobic must, but it is a bit more wide-spread. You probably have a routine you follow each day, break that. Do things differently. Take a new route home from work. Try writing with your non-dominant hand. Try brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Head out to the beach instead of straight home. Try a new food. All of these things keep your brain guessing and require it to jump-start sections it may not have used in a while. This is exactly what you want.
Your brain forms associations based on the senses that are triggered during the learning process. This learning process could be through interactions or experiences, or even through traditional book learning. Associations are how the brain is hardwired to recall information, so utilizing more than one sense in the learning process greatly helps to ensure that you’ll later be able to recall the learned information. Getting your emotions involved is another triggering element, so when possible involve your emotions. Interact with people, sights, or sounds. Things that make a large emotional impact are much more easily remembered and recalled.
There are a vast array of different neurobic exercises you can take on. Here are just some examples to help you get started. As soon as you get a good feel for the exercise requirements, you’ll be able to come up with some of your own.
- Get dressed for the day with your eyes closed. This gives you a new experience and triggers senses not generally used in this everyday activity. Just don’t feel like you also have to choose your outfit for the day with your eyes closed!
- Break your shopping routine and shop in a new grocery store or at a local farmer’s market.
- Place a bunch of random objects in a bag and try to pick out one particular object by feel alone. Do not look into the bag. If you carry a handbag, purse, or backpack, reach in and get the things you need (like keys or a wallet) without looking. Find the needed objects by touch alone.
- Have a meal outside. Eat on an outdoor patio or have a picnic in the park.
- Light a scented candle and listen to music with your eyes closed. Try listening to something you don’t typically listen to. If you typically like rock, try listening to classical. If you typically listen to classical, try jazz.
- Close your eyes as you make your way from your bedroom to the living room. Use your sense of touch to help you along the way.