The 4 pillars of brain fitness: get your brain in shape!
ONLY A FEW YEARS AGO, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN DIFFICULT TO ASSOCIATE THE WORD “BRAIN” WITH FITNESS OR TRAINING. HOWEVER, THESE DAYS THERE ARE EVEN VIDEO GAMES IN THE MARKET THAT SPECIFICALLY COMBINE THESE TWO WORDS TO PROMOTE THE BENEFITS OF PLAYING THEM.
The evolution of neuroscience in the last decade has generated an important body of knowledge about how our brain works. All the news, products and services related to “brain fitness” or “brain training” reflect a growing interest about the possible natural remedies that help us to maintain and strengthen our brain activity whilst ageing without depending on pills.
Regardless of the commercial tactics that try to satisfy the growing need to age in the best possible conditions to be able to continue enjoying a life of quality. Science has been stripping down some of the myths about our brain and showing the great capacity of this organ to respond to different training programmes to strengthen its activity and improve its functions.
For example, the concept “mental age” is actually quite fictitious. Each person is a world unto their own, with a unique brain; the expression of their brain functions is also unique and does not depend on age. Therefore, and although the training of the brain can improve specific activity functions, it is not possible to say that these programmes can “rejuvenate your mental age” by 10, 20 or 30 years. It is also not true that ageing causes an automatic reduction of brain capacity. Seeing that the brain is a flexible and adaptable organ, there is no fixed determining factor in the evolution of our brain function when we age. This does not mean that all activities or exercises for the brain are the same. Our brain works thanks to the coordinated activity of different specialised areas which our lives and productivity depend on; and therefore they should combine different stimulus and habits to strengthen them.
What is clear is that there isn’t a unique solution to maintain the brain active. However, our life style and our day to day actions play a very important part in the way that our brains change. Currently, the recommendations from scientific studies suggest that a life style that is healthy for our brains should include at least four basic pillars: balanced nutrition, stress management, physical exercise and mental training.
Evidently, there are other influential factors such as the maintenance of emotional connections, not only those related to self-esteem and self-confidence, but also with our close networks of family and friends. Finally, sufficient sleep and general health conditions are important factors.