The Fitness Center: Boost Your Brain Power!

Lois Moncel, Director of Fitness & Wellness

Do you find yourself playing brain games or doing crossword puzzles to help increase your cognitive abilities? Finding the right kind of exercise can help protect against neurodegeneration, which is the decline of brain function that naturally happens with age. Multiple studies show that a single function, like playing brain games on a computer, only helps with specific cognitive functions. Studies also show that dual tasking (combining mental exercises with physical movement) can challenge and stimulate different areas of the brain and are more effective.

According to Bamidis et al. (2015), the key to effortful learning seems to be that the tasks are novel and challenging. Apparently, learning a new skill can release beneficial neurotransmitters such as dopamine and acetylcholine, which may accelerate neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to adapt to new challenges. Brain health is important to everyone, and exercise is good for the aging brain. Indeed, the right kind of exercise can protect against neurodegeneration, the natural decline of brain functions that accompanies aging.

In October, the Sports Club introduced a new class, Brains & Balance, that stresses dual tasking by combining physical or balance movements with mental challenges. Below, see what a couple of participants have to say about the class.

“This class is both fun and promises to improve our health—mental and physical. My balance and coordination has improved. Like everything else, we must use those muscles or lose them. Thanks for the creativity and the energy put into the offering. I hope you continue to offer this.”—CZ

“I signed up out of absolute necessity after an accident, a lengthy hospitalization, and being relegated to a wheelchair for many weeks. During that time, I lost my balance and confidence, falling was/is a huge fear. This balance class is helping me regain some very basic skills that, before, were always taken for granted. In this class, the step-up portion is certainly my least favorite, but the one I need the most!”—BB

For more information or if you have questions, contact Lois Moncel at [email protected].