Stop making fitness fancy. Fitness is not a product. Health is not something you buy. Brain health is no different. But it likely will not stay that way.
It can be hard enough to be healthy even when it does not cost a small fortune. I believe fitness – including brain fitness – should be available to just about everyone. Instead, brain fitness may unfortunately become a scenario in which there is an array of services and products (most of which would be optional or unnecessary) only available to those with high amounts of disposable income.
With general fitness, there are people that will tell you that you need:
- a continuous glucose monitor even though you do not have diabetes
- to track your sleep instead of simply getting enough
- to count calories like it’s your job instead of just eating healthy foods most of the time until you are almost full
- “hydration powders” to add to your water
Yes, it has now come to this: you now need to add dust to your water or else it will not hydrate you properly.
Let that sink in for a moment. Unless you add a dry powder to your water, your water will not hydrate you properly. And somehow, these products are popular – from Liquid I.V. to LMNT – people are buying them up. (In a way, this is not surprising. If astrology can get popular again, it is clear people will believe anything as long as it has a solid foundation of nonsense.)
We are likely unfortunately on a similar trajectory with brain fitness. In essence, all you need is quality food, adequate sleep, and regular, enjoyable physical activity which is demanding enough to create physical change and stimulating, reactive, and interactive enough to create brain change.
There are already an abundance of brain games which are minimally effective at best. And there are now an array of “brain beverages” available going by names such as Brain Juice, Moon Juice Brain Dust, Brain Octane Oil and more. Roll your eyes, then come back to keep reading. You do not need them.
Certainly, you can add various products, equipment, or tests to enhance your efforts add brain fitness. but these should be optional.
I believe that in the future, in addition to specialized beverages, there will be services where you get a brain scan to will tell you exactly what type of exercise you need to do to improve the health and function of a certain brain area.
And these will likewise be completely unnecessary. Sure, nice if you can afford them. But still unnecessary.
If you engage in complete physical fitness through different types of exercise so that you challenge all characteristics of fitness, you will, by default achieve complete brain fitness as long as you add in some cognitive challenge to the physical work.
If you use all the parts of your body in all the different ways your body can be used, you will use all parts of your brain that create and control those movements.
If you eat a healthy, varied diet, there is no need for scans or tests to see if you are not eating enough kale.
Rather than developing expensive scans or other means of targeting specific deficiencies with brain fitness we should focus on making complete physical fitness available to more people – not just those with high amounts of disposable income.
Just toss a stick around as you go for a walk. Or count backwards by 7s. Or use a black marker to write numbers on a tennis ball and add up the numbers you see as you bounce the ball. You can use these strategies directly while walking or doing other aerobic activity or as a way to use the rest between sets of weight training productively for brain fitness. (See previous post for some video ideas.)
Let’s keep fitness – for both brain and body – free or as close to it as possible for as many people as possible.