It is no secret that exercise is essential to keep one’s body fit. The amount of credit we give it for playing a role in our lifestyles would never be enough; but there is an entirely different category of exercise that we fail to appreciate: mental exercise.
While physical exercise is great for your brain, and has shown association with relieving stress, anxiety, improving self-worth and persistence, it is also important that we perform activities that specifically target our brain cells, and advances our cognitive memory.
Your mind is equally an important asset as is your body, and the benefits of exercise on the brain will prove to be of so much significance in the long run. Because exercising your brain helps you create new possibilities, challenging your own perception that you had of what your brain can actually do. Brain exercises and depression have had a strong connection, as exercises have proven to help you through mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. Not only that, brain boosting exercises and practices have proven to do wonders in improving concentration, sharpen memory, and an overall increase in brain functioning. In the present era, we are accustomed to having our basic tasks performed by the technological wonders of various gadgets. But in doing so, our brain cells have started rusting because they don’t get the daily, much needed, brain workout that stimulate the brain cells and provoke them to perform better. Which is why researchers are now encouraging people to come forward and invest time and energy on activities that will surely boost your brain functioning, so that your physical health goes hand in hand with your mental health. Because ignorance of either can be detrimental, hence focus should be paid for the improvement of all aspects of health, and light should be shed on brainworks. Daily exercise for your brain is just as important as your physical exercise.
Your mind needs exercises to increase its alertness and vigilance. Mind exercises are relatively different from physical exercises, but they have parallel patterns like developing stamina over time in order to be able to perform tougher tasks. For instance, you may begin exercising like playing Sudoku and chess, and solving math problems and crosswords at an easy level, but with time your thinking abilities would sharpen, and you’d be able to solve tougher problems in no time. Often we see, that we cease taking interests in these activities after some time, this is because your brain has become used to the level at which you’re playing, and demand a greater challenge. Thus, it is time for you to upgrade to a higher level. Continuous stimulation of brain through challenges will ultimately change your brain structure physically, and this is when your brain will become accustomed to these exercises. These physical changes in your brain are termed as neuroplasticity. It is basically the ability of the brain to adapt itself to changes according to various events and changes in life, and adjust its functioning accordingly. When faced with different stimuli and exertions, our mind and the neurons that inhabit it, have the ability to act accordingly and with time, they morph the way they function.
Earlier scientists thought that neuronal abilities were constant. However, recent researches on neuroplasticity have proved contrary. At present, people around the globe are embracing newer techniques of strengthening the mind as it is now believed that mental abilities can be augmented.
A San Francisco-based laboratory, Lumosity, which has employed a group of neuroscientists of Stanford and UC Berkeley, designed games, and algorithms which help in adapting cognitive abilities, and recorded the progress of the participants who played those games on a regular basis.
In one of their studies conducted at Stanford in 2013, 21 breast cancer survivors took the Lumosity training test for 12 weeks. Their training included processing speed, working memory tasks, and mental flexibility. The results demonstrated that people who went through the Lumosity exercises had improved neurological functioning as compared to the ones who did not take the test.
Another study was conducted by San Francisco State University researchers with 13 healthy individuals. These people took Lumosity training for a period of 5 weeks. At the end of the study, the mental status of these individuals had improved by 20%. The basic aim of mind training is not to improve the scores of the games but to improve the capability of the mind behind those scores.
Lumosity has designed these games so that they focus on improving memory, concentration span and thinking and problem-solving ability. These abilities then help the person in everyday tasks. And that is when you get the actual results.
It is after decades of research that scientists have been able to prove that mental abilities are dynamic and adaptable. This can revolutionize the way we see intelligence and can be particularly beneficial in developing the future generation’s cognitive abilities.