Building Mental Muscle

March 15, 2018 Written by: Kelly Nygard

Recently, one of our Iowa trainers, Pam Connolly, shared an article from The Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) July/August 2015:

The word “plasticity,” also known as “brain training,” stems from William James’ Principles of Psychology in 1890, and is now known as “neuroplasticity.” It is holistic and integrative.  It involves similar methods of training the brain compared with training the body:  sets, reps, adaptation, timed performance, and specificity.  When combined with gross motor movements, the brain regions are strengthened and improved.  Consequently, one can learn how to better control their anger, depression, fear, and even replace brain medications.  Activity should stimulate both sides of the brain as well as the various regions.  This is considered to be the direction of the future for group and individual classes.

Mental tasks must be executed at the same time as physical tasks.

Counting out reps/sets out loud can become mindlessly hypnotic, and does not usually tax the brain.

Can employ 2-3 sets, 12-15 reps method with this.

As far as amounts, the number 7 seems to be the most common (days/week, colors of the rainbow, notes on a musical scale, phone #’s, continents, etc.).  Add more or take away depending on who you’re working with or how many times you’ve done the particular drill).

Activity games aka “brain games.”  Pick and choose what works best for you and your client(s)!

  1. Walking or marching while recalling one’s first memory
  2. Walking or marching while solving a challenging math problem without pen/paper
  3. Squatting while listing last night’s dinner (day’s food) forward and in reverse order. Spell the items.  Spell the items backwards.
  4. Lunging while alternating listing fruits and vegetables with each lunge
  5. Sitting, raising fingers (frail, elderly)
  6. Counting 1-49 by 7 (add challenge of a time limit)
  7. Phone number: Recite last 4 digits forwards and backwards (then last 7, then all 10 including area code.  Add up phone digits, 2 at a time, then grand total
  8. Spell each digit forwards and backwards
  9. List body/muscle parts: quads, hamstrings, ankles, shoulders, chest, abs, and hands
  10. Visual games: While marching or squatting, say the color OR the word

BLUE RED ORANGE GREEN BLACK

GREEN GREEN PURPLE RED RED

GREEN WHITE RED ORANGE RED

BLUE PURPLE ORANGE PURPLE BLUE

PURPLE BLUE YELLOW WHITE RED

 

  1. Object recall:  show 7 objects, remove.  Have clients say them in order.  Stapler, smile, bowl, mug, block, pen, calculator.  Reverse order.   Spell objects.
  2. Play verbal add-on with objects around the room.
  3. Find 7 objects in the room, repeat list forwards and backwards.

 

*Come back to the earlier games every 10 minutes

 

More visual games:  6SECONDS.ORG, MENTALSTRENGTH.COM, BRAINAGE.NINTENDO.COM, MYERSBRIGGS.ORG, BRAINMAP.ORG, OPENCENTER.ORG, FUNEDUCATION.COM, SHARPBRAINS.COM, HBDI.COM, IMPLICIT.HARVARD.EDU, MENSA.ORG

Categorised in: Senior Fitness