The Big Deal about Brain Fitness

The Big Deal about Brain Fitness

What does having a quick, resilient, and younger brain impact? Better question… what does it not impact?

We can’t choose some things like our age, but we can choose many other things such as our neurological health, neurological age, and our mindset.

When we can consistently dive into experiences which create new experiences for our brain, especially our prefrontal cortex and portions of the right side of our brain, we send messages to our brain which essentially say…

  • You’re not done yet
  • Oh, you want to grow and learn? Gotcha
  • Oh, so you want to improve how you think? On it

Here are the initial key aspects to building a fit brain, by growing the parts of the brain which will keep your brain young from the perspective of neurological health. This by default impacts your mindset, because brain fitness impacts your ability to be mentally fit.

The 8 key variables which act as superfood for your brain are:

  • Crossing the Midline of your left brain-right brain hemispheres with your arms, hands, fingers, and/or legs.
  • Listening to music/sounds of certain higher frequencies
  • Rhythmic Consonance (moving in time with the rhythm of music)
  • Moving in rhythm with specific tempos
  • Emotional Excitement
  • Repetition
  • Focus of Attention
  • Novelty

Of these, let’s consider the following:

Novelty: the action of taking on new perspectives and experiences as a way of living. This means, being “novel” for your brain would need to connect to your daily routines. Specifically, adding new adjustments and nudges to your daily routines, and also rotating your routines. Know that even the most healthy of routines, unchanged, can lead to a complacent brain, mind, and body.

Crossing the Midline: this single activity, done in new ways so as to avoid complacency of brain, is a game changer. As a conductor, I’ve done this throughout my life, and I’m so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to impact my own fitness of brain in this manner. However, not everyone has this opportunity, so what are some ways in which you and your organization can do so?  Here are some ideas and resources:

  • Old school patty cake patty cake (yes, in a business setting to… get ready to de-stress!)
  • Martial Arts
  • Physical Brain Games with Music 

Focus of Attention: there are many mental fitness strategies which exist, and which also remind me of when I practiced piano and tuba as a child, young adult, and today. There is a state of mind you enter where your energy is high, your heart rate is low, and your focus of attention is very high. This state is what some call Flow State, others have called it the Zone. Call it what you like… it is in this state, what I like to call our Genius State, where we reach peak performance, while simultaneously living with a sense of serenity. We also change the chemical nature of what and who we attract in this state of being, and to be clear, it’s a state of being, not simply a state of mind. This is an action state, even if we are contemplating, we are doing so envisioning action we can in the moment, and in the near future.

There are other ways to build yourself a better brain. Here are some simple activities you can dive into in order to build your prefrontal cortex and portions of the right brain, two areas where the magic of creation and creativity take place, or could take place more often once engaged. If you’re wondering about the left side of the brain, no worries. It is also important, and for many societal reasons our left side of our brain typically gets plenty of stimulation. What we need to focus on is the prefrontal cortex and right side of the brain.

  • Music: listen to some music from a different genre every day, while you workout, etc.
  • Dance: even if you don’t think you can dance. Do your best to stay in time with the beat of the music, which automatically engages the temporal performance of your brain.
  • Act:  even a game of charades will do! Any kind of acting where you have to personify emotion lights up your brain!
  • Paint: any style will do, and you can also try putting on some music and painting however the music makes you feel.
  • Chess: even if you’re a beginner, play a game of chess daily if you can, or at least a couple of times per week. See how many moves you can think ahead, and how many different scenarios you can envision before and after any move.

Dive into something new and experience, on a daily basis, the integration of newness into your daily routines. After a while, rotate those routines, and keep adding new experiences and habit formation will take over… in a very good way.

Keep creating the New!

Enrique

Cheever T, Taylor A, Finkelstein R, Edwards E, et al. NIH/Kennedy Center workshop on music and the brain: finding harmony. Neuron. 2018;97(6):1214-1218.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/robinseatonjefferson/2019/09/28/nih-bets-20-million-music-can-heal-our-brains/?sh=6ab848cec721