I know you’re doing aerobics, but there’s a new aerobics kid on the block: neuron aerobics. Neuron aerobics and brain exercises for health might just be more important for your well-being than your typical aerobics. So, if you’re not doing neuron aerobics, you’re missing out.
What Are Neuron Aerobics?
Neuron aerobics give your brain an actual workout. We tend to think of physical workouts to keep our bodies fit Your brain needs to stay in shape, too.
Your brain is filled with communication lines known as neurons. These neurons send electrical signals throughout the body. They’re responsible for initiating EVERY action we take and EVERY thought we have.
You can use your brain’s natural ability to produce proteins, called neurotrophins. These proteins protect and improve your neurons. This protection is what helps fight aging’s effects on your mind. By activating underused neural pathways, neural connections get stronger and more flexible. And that’s a GOOD thing!
Benefits of Neuron Aerobics
You do neuron aerobics by engaging each of your five senses in unconventional ways.
There are three main ways to create a neurobic activity that will stimulate growth in your brain.
1. Involving one or more of your senses in a non-typical way.
2. Engaging your attention in an activity by choosing something fun, surprising, or emotion-evoking.
3. Changing the way you do a routine activity in an unexpected way.
Studies show that neurobics helps with things like:
• Migraine pain – A 2021 study out of the Yoga-Samskrutham University in Florida found that practicing psycho neurobics – like vocalizing an “O” sound – reduces the number of migraine attacks, relieves symptoms, lowers migraine intensity, and even cures a migraine.
• Insomnia – A meta-analysis from the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in New York found that neurobics are a possible remedy for insomnia.
• Diabetes – In 2021, researchers found that using neurobics and positive affirmations improved the health of individuals with diabetes, in conjunction with their typical medications.
• Memory and Depression – A 2019 study found neurobics to be an effective tool to improve memory and reduce depression in a group of elderly adults living in nursing homes.
How To Do Neuron Aerobics
Fun is essential when thinking about which neurobics to choose. Here are some suggestions!
Start your new brain-building routine with these five fun activities:
1. Play “name that sound.“ Record sounds on your phone around the house, park, or grocery store. Play them back for your friends or family and have each person try to “name that sound.” You can also buy a sound-effects CD.
The science: Using auditory clues to identify sounds triggers your visual-memory centers and strengthens their connection to your brain’s auditory-processing centers.
2. Wake up to a new smell. Change your usual morning-smell association. How many of us smell the aroma of coffee first thing in the morning:) Change it up. Vanilla, citrus, peppermint, and rosemary all make refreshing substitutions. Keep a bit of your favorite aroma in a container on your bedside table. Smell it when you first wake up.
The science: By linking a new odor with your morning routine, you activate new neural pathways.
3. Awaken your inner artist with strange views. On your refrigerator and walls, turn pictures of your family, calendar, and clocks upside down or sideways.
The science: Your brain is of two minds when it comes to processing visual information. The analytical and verbal part of your brain (called the “left brain”) tries to label an object after just a brief glance: “table,” “chair,” “child.” The “right brain,” in contrast, perceives spatial relationships and uses nonverbal cues.
When you look at a familiar picture right-side up, your left brain quickly labels it and diverts your attention to other things. When the picture is upside down, the quick labeling strategy doesn’t work. Your right-brain networks kick in, trying to interpret the shapes, colors, and relationships of a puzzling picture.
4. Choose your wardrobe differently. With eyes closed, choose your clothing based on texture. For example, make it a silky-smooth day, or a rough, woolly day. Use your fingers, cheeks, lips, and even your feet to select your outfit.
The science: Extensive practice using the fingers to make fine distinctions between objects or textures causes expansion and rewiring of the brain areas involved in touch. This has been observed in monkeys trained to use their fingers to get food and in brain-imaging experiments in blind human Braille readers.
5. Blindfolded taste test. Identify food using four of your five senses: smell, taste, touch, and sound. A food’s flavor includes its texture, aroma, temperature, spiciness, and sound.
The science: Smell and taste play a huge part in our enjoyment of food. But texture plays a role, too. Focusing on a food’s texture helps to create a different neural route. The tongue and lips are among the most sensitive parts of the body (even more sensitive than the fingertips).
Final Thoughts on Brain Exercises for Health
It’s clear that aerobics of all sorts are good for our bodies. So let’s not leave out neuron aerobics and brain exercises for health. We all want our brainspans to last as long as our lifespans, right? Knowing and using what science teaches us and mixing in a heaping dose of both fun and creativity will keep our brains happy and healthy!
If you feel stuck and need additional support to adopt a new healthy habit or routine, consider working with me. We can partner up in setting goals, drawing on your skills and strengths, and implementing strategies to help you find your way to lasting healthy success.
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For over 15 years, Shelli has been a freelance writer and wellness habit coach on Joyinmovement. She writes about brain fitness, creating a healthy lifestyle, traveling the world, and making positive habits stick. Stop procrastinating! Take action, join her free newsletter.