In Brain Fit for Life, Dr. Simon Evans, PhD and Dr. Paul Burghardt, PhD tackle a very contemporary and timely issue. Is it possible to achieve lifelong brain health and fitness? Is there anything we can do to prevent the inevitable decline of cognitive function? The answer to both questions is a resounding yes!
The coauthors are research scientists from the University of Michigan with a wealth of public speaking experience. The strength of their book is that they break down a highly complex subject matter into an easy to read and entertaining format.
According to the authors, “your brain responds and adapts to the environment you live in and the experiences you have. … Just like the rest of your body, your brain can be fit or in shape or unfit and out of shape.” The authors state that the brain fitness industry is feverishly producing intellectually challenging software games in an attempt to keep the mind young. However, they are adamant that their book is about boosting total brain fitness. It is definitely possible to exercise your brain to improve your level of brain fitness. However it takes a variety of exercise routines to really get your brain “in shape.”
The foundation of the book is laid down very strategically in the first chapter. Total brain fitness is broken down into three main cognitive systems: 1) Emotional Intelligence (EQ); 2) Physical Intelligence (PQ); and 3) Intellectual Cognition (IQ).
Evans and Burghardt present the four cornerstones of brain fitness as quality nutrition, physical activity, mental activity and sleep. If only one of these cornerstones is weak, your brain health can be drastically compromised. The reader will discover what nutrients are the best raw materials to boost brain power and how to utilize exercise and physical activity to improve learning and memory. The reader will also learn what mental activities and exercise will help sharpen his mind and cognitive function. “Most researchers believe there is no harm in using the cognitive training games but realize that it’s only a small piece of the overall puzzle.”
And finally the reader will learn why sleep is so important for learning. One fascinating concept describes plasticity and the brain’s ability to rewire itself. “You’ll need it to continue to learn, adapt to and successfully conquer the challenges that life throws at you.” Sleep deprivation decreases the brain’s ability to strengthen connection between brain cells and consolidate what one has just learned. In particular it gives great insight into the reason why some sleep deprived students have difficulty passing some of their exams!
If you are looking for an excellent guide to lifelong brain health and fitness, Brain Fit for Life is for you. Through their insightful analysis, practical illustrations, and amusing cartoons, the authors absolutely inspire you to improve your level of brain fitness. Brain fitness is a lifelong journey. However, if you follow the directions, integrate the four cornerstones and take action, you are going to enjoy the ride.