Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    Keep your brain challenged

    Published February 15, 2018

    But I’m already exercising — why isn’t that enough?

    by Thayer Robins

    Your brain needs a healthy body. So everything you’re doing now to stay fit is helping your brain. Nutrition, hydration, exercise, fresh air and sunlight, sleep: these all matter to your brain. A lot.

    But it’s not enough. To understand why, think a moment about what it means to have a malleable, ever-changing brain. Science has coined the term “neuroplasticity,” and it means your brain is constantly evolving — “learning” what it deems important and “unlearning” (erasing) what it determines you no longer need.

    Use it or lose it rules the day — for body and brain.

    Just as our body needs a balance of activities that challenge the different things we expect it to do, our brain needs to be challenged in ways appropriate to its unique role.

    Living in the wild used to provide these challenges. We humans evolved to thrive in a rough, ever-changing environment, where daily survival depended on the ability not only to move quickly and powerfully but also to perceive, to reason, and to react at top speed in one high-stakes situation after another.

    Today, safety, routine, and ease have replaced daily high-stakes challenges. Modern conveniences starve our brains of much-needed activity, and the consequences are hurting us all.

    Our brain plays the central role in everything we do and everything we are. 
    When our brain gains function, we change for the better. When it loses function, we are diminished.

    An active lifestyle filled with brain-stimulating activities will go a long way toward keeping your brain sharp, even as your body ages. That may be all you need, provided your brain is currently in good shape, and you are not affected in the future by illness or injury that would cause a marked decline.

    But for those coping with a less-than-ideal lifestyle or facing more serious challenges, achieving and maintaining a high-functioning brain will require regular training that provides the kind of stimulation your brain hungers for.

    Future columns will discuss some of the tools I’ve found that can supply nourishing stimulation. Most involve moving your body.

    For those who wish to start now, or who prefer computer-based training, I recommend you check out the free exercises provided by PositScience at BrainHQ.com.

    To create a no-fee account, you need only first and last name, email, and password. This gives you access to four exercises via the main page. For more exercises, try the following:

    • Click Training (at the top), click Explore (button in middle of page), then choose any of the free courses. Note that for some, you’ll see the exercise icons right away. For others, you’ll need to click Continue (on the right).
    • Check out Daily Spark, which opens one exercise to all users every day. Keep in mind that they only allow two rounds per free account.

    PositScience also provides apps for mobile devices, though free offerings via mobile are more limited.


    Thayer Robins is a Tower staff writer. You can reach her at bavx-at-daytree.net.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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