Makeover Monday: Aerobics for the Brain

I came across a new-to-me term the other day: neurobics. Anyone heard of it?

Neurobics refers to a certain type of brain exercise that encourages the activation of new brain circuits and helps to keep the brain fit, flexible, and alert.

According to Lawrence C. Katz and Manning Rubin, authors of the book, Keep the Brain Alive, mental exercises have to meet certain guidelines to be considered neurobic:

1. Involve one or more of your senses in a novel context. You can use additional senses to do an ordinary task by blunting the sense normally used. For instance:

Get dressed for work or take a shower with your eyes closed.
Eat a meal with your family in silence. Use only visual cues.

or combine two or more senses in unexpected ways:

Listening to a specific piece of music while smelling a particular aroma.

2. Engage your attention. To stand out from the background of everyday activities something has to be unusual, fun, surprising or evoke one of your basic emotions like happiness, love or anger:

Go camping for the weekend.
Take your child, spouse or parent to your work for the day.

3. Break a routine activity in an unexpected, novel way (novelty just for its own sake is not highly neurobic).

Take a completely new route to work. Shop at a farmer’s market instead of a supermarket. Completely rearrange your office and desktop

I love the idea of combining mental exercise with physical exercise. Maybe it has something to do with pre-teen dreams of being a world-renowned pathologist AND a medal-winning Olympic gymnast. I dunno. Anyway, I was fascinated by the idea and pondered other possibilities during my travels. Here’s what I came up with:

Teach someone else how to do something. It’s one thing to know how to do something, but something else entirely to teach someone else how to do it. Your sense will be heightened as you work to ensure your “student” understands what you are saying.

If you can’t find a willing pupil, write an article about a subject. Not knowing anything about said subject is all the more reason to research and write about it. I can see your brain expanding now.

Write a letter or draw a picture with your non-dominant hand. (I think I’m remembering this from a Julia Cameron suggestion, but I can’t find my copy of her book.)

Set aside time for meditation, which stimulates the area of the brain responsible for advanced thinking. Incorporating deep breathing will increase oxygen levels and blood flow to the brain.

Work crossword or other types of word puzzles. They’re invigorating and stimulating. To change things up, try working it from the bottom up, or in some other pattern.

Make up your own memory game. For example, while waiting for dinner to be served in a restaurant, take note of 6 objects or people, where they’re located, and what they look like. After you leave the restaurant, try to recall the objects. (Engaging all 5 senses in creating the memories will help you recall them later.)

Since I haven’t been doing my neurobics (having just learned about them), and it didn’t seem particularly wise to jot down ideas as I was driving 75 mph down the interstate, that’s all I can remember of my ponderings.

I’d love to read any of your ideas! Clearly, I could use the help!


Personal note: I am home. I’m both happy and sad about that.