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How Does the Brain Affect Our Lives? (Part 18)

A Book Review: Younger Brains, Sharper Brains by Eric R. Braverman, M.D.

by Maggie Dail, M.A., Learning Specialist

Chapter 10: Step Four: Exercises That Boost Your Brain

Health Benefits of Physical Exercise Include:

  • Losing weight and keeping it off

  • Improving sexual function

  • Strengthening cardiovascular health

  • Maintaining bone density

  • Improving brain function

“If you constantly engage in mental and physical activities, particularly those that get more difficult as you progress, you can increase your cognitive reserve.” P. 178

  • Braverman Brain Workout –choose a domain or domains

Enhancing Memory –Visual Memory

  1. Drawing maps from home to varying locations – farther and farther away

  2. Take 5 playing cards from a deck; look one at a time; memorize number and suit; turn cards over and write down what you saw and in the correct order; keep adding.

  3. Select a photo (album, Facebook etc.); Write down as many details as possible from memory

Enhancing Memory– Verbal Memory

  1. Listen to the news for 2 minutes. Write everything you remember. Add more time as you go.

  2. Think of songs that contain the word blue in the title or lyrics. Keep adding; after 4 days go on to another word.

  3. Memorize a haiku, repeat from memory. Increase in complexity.

Enhancing Memory -Improve your Immediate Memory

  1. At bed time make a list of everything you ate that day.

  2. Close eyes and describe what you are wearing; more challenging describe what others are wearing.

  3. List 5 people you spoke to during the day. Gradually increase the number.

Enhancing Memory-Improve Your Working Memory

  1. Using an address book or e-mail contact list; remind yourself how each person looks and when you saw them last.

  2. Write down how much money you spent during each transaction.

  3. Chunking sorts large amounts of information into subgroups. For example: a grocery list can be remembered by what is in each aisle. P. 182-182

Enhancing Attention

  1. Tapping a table as many times as possible in 30 seconds; increases by 15 seconds until you get to 2 minutes – faster all of the time.

  2. Practice reading with different kinds of background sound – music, news programs, etc. Increase by 5 minutes each time.

  3. Play: Game of Five Differences – looking at two images with 5 differences (apps available). Begin with 2 minutes and reduce gradually to 15 seconds.

  4. Take a walk – increase your speed as you progress.p. 183

Enhancing IQ –

  1. Abstract IQread a newspaper from cover to cover.

  2. Creative IQ – Flexibility “What if…challenges.

  3. Emotional IQ – getting out of the house; listening to lectures or sermons

  4. Perceptive IQ – be a good role model and teacher p. 184

Braverman also includes activities for becoming more sensitive or intuitive; becoming more rational and how to break bad habits. P. 185-186

He suggests rotating through the types of activities on different days of the week.

Braverman Recommendations for Physical Activities

  • “The point is to get out of your comfort zone for as little as 15 minutes to see what sparks your interest.” P. 187

  • Addresses anxiety and depression

  • Increases serotonin and GABA

  • Aerobics increases blood flow p. 188

  • You need muscle mass for better thinking

  • Competitive sports make you think faster p. 189

  • Consistently increase expectation; but not to the point of pain.

  • Braverman cautions by asking a series of questions to determine whether you are ready to exercise (heart condition, pregnancy, dizziness, bone or joint – etc. ask doctor) p. 190

  • Mix it up – a routine should not be the same all the time for ever. p. 190

  • The PATH to Exercise – 5 Phase Program

  1. Stretching and warm-up – work up to walking 15 minutes daily

  2. Dynamic combinations of stretches that induce blood flow and heart pumping. p. 191

  3. Aerobic/cardiovascular training – rhythm and synchrony of whole body. P. 192

  4. Weight lifting/resistance training – for bones and muscles

  5. Cross-training – combines #3 and #4.

Braverman gives further advice that will maximize this process. P. 193-194

Next Braverman talks about Step Five: Natural Hormones Jump-Start Quick Thinking


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