By Prodyut Das
Neurobic exercises is the name of the new science of brain exercise. Its primary goal is to help us keep our mental abilities... our memory as well as learning new information. Neurobics is different from the brain exercises you did in the past which were usually logic based puzzles such as crossword puzzles and Sudoku. This type of exercise basically involved doing what you already know, but just doing more of it. It is not that they are of no value but their value is limited because they usually only involve a small amount of your brain and you are also just using the same brain neurons (the name for brain cells).
What is Neurobics?
Neurobic exercises is a unique new system of brain exercises based on the latest scientific research from leading neurobiology labs around the world. The deceptively simple exercise program is scientifically based on the brain's ability to produce natural growth factors called neurotrophins that help fight off the effects of mental aging.
A physical exercise program needs to involve all muscle groups and a mental exercise program needs to involve multiple brain areas in new ways in order to increase brain connections and develop new brain pathways. Neurobics will contribute to making your brain more responsive and flexible so it can take on mental challenges whether they be maintaining memories, learning new tasks and information or being creative with your thinking and doing. Very simply, neurobics is based on how our brain works not just on working the brain!
Neurobic exercises use your five physical senses and your emotional sense in unexpected ways and encourage you to shake up your everyday routines
Neurobics don't require paper and pen or isolating yourself with puzzles. Everyday life is the neurobic brain gym. They can be done anywhere, anytime in offbeat, fun and easy ways while you're getting up, commuting, working, eating, shopping or relaxing.
They are designed to help the brain manufacture its own nutrients that strengthen, preserve and grow brain cells. Something as simple as closing your eyes and using your other senses of touch, smell and spatial memory to unlock your door, enter your home at the end of the day and find your way to the coat closet and answering machine is a typical neurobic exercise.
What happens in your brain while you're doing this becomes exercise because different, under used nerve pathways and connections get activated. The result is the production of a kind of natural brain fertilizer that strengthens nerve connections and helps them and your nerve cell receivers (dendrites) stay younger and stronger. And the benefit of that is a fit and flexible mind ready to meet any mental challenge whether it be remembering a name or where your car keys are or mastering a new computer program or staying creative in your work.
Try these neurobic exercises with everyday movements.
- Changing the usual smell you wake up to in the morning, i.e. coffee or tea with a different smell or freshly baked bread will activate new neural pathways.
- Use your non-dominant hand to brush teeth, eat food, brush hair or write.
- To use the side of your brain you don't normally use close your eyes to wash, dress, open the front door, find your keys. This will help you strengthen your sense of touch.
- Getting dressed with the eyes closed.
- Turn your life upside-down. Turn your calendar, pictures, artwork, notes on the fridge, clock and anything else you’d like, upside-down.
- Getting into car with eyes closed. Find your keys, unlock the door, sit inside, buckle your seatbelt and start the engine. Continue using your sense of touch and spatial memory to locate the radio and change the station, to start and shut off the windshield wipers.
- Change the order of your meal. Start with dessert and end with soup or salad.
- Vary the order of your morning routine. Try eating breakfast first and then getting ready for work. You can also change your breakfast as well.
- Start a new hobby. Hobbies that require the use of more than one sense and that are not routine are the most Neurobic. They also make fine distinctions within one sensory system.
- Repositioning the location of familiar items reactivates spatial networks and forces your visual and somatosensory areas to get busy adjusting your internal maps. So rearrange the furniture, change the order of the clothes in your closet, change your cabinet contents around in the kitchen/bathroom, move your watch to the other wrist, change up your desk or office as well.
- Once a month try a new cuisine that incorporates exotic foods, tastes and smells. Choose a recipe for breakfast or dinner and shop at an ethnic market for the ingredients. This is a Neurobic exercise too!
- Traveling exposes the senses to the novelty of new surroundings. Spatial maps used for normal navigation are no longer useable and new pathways must be constructed. Any discomfort or stress you might feel taking in new languages, sounds and sights is actually your brain kicking it up a notch!
- Planting a garden, whether on a rooftop in the city, or an acre in the country is a richly Neurobic exercise. You use all of your senses to plant a garden.
- Go on a drive with no destination in mind. Bring family/friend and let each person play navigator. Let them make the decisions of when to turn left, when to turn right or when to stop and smell the flowers.
- Change your shopping routine by stopping by an ethnic market, butcher shop, bakery, fish market, produce stand, hardware store, book store or flea market. Ethnic food stores usually have staff who know all about their products. Ask about where items come from and how they are used. By seeing, feeling and touching the products (when possible) you are forming new associative links.
- Visit a park in your area. Get comfortable and close your eyes. Use your other senses to determine what’s happening around you. Free-associate using the smells, sounds and “feel” the experience.
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