People want to live long and healthy lives; we just don’t always do what it takes to make that happen. Most would agree that physical fitness should be a priority for lifelong health, and everyone has a pretty good idea of what they need to do to get results. You can lift weights to increase muscle mass, take a yoga class to develop flexibility, but how many people have stopped to think about training their brains to be strong and flexible in the same way?
Training your brain? Brain fitness? What is that?
Our brains are amazing, incredible tools – and few would argue that we use them all the time (except for that guy that cut you off in the left turn lane – clearly, he was not using his brain). Current research tells us that our brains have astounding plasticity and are constantly being reshaped based on our experiences. But are you stretching your brain, exercising that versatile muscle daily to improve its flexibility, elasticity, processing speed, and forcing it to grow in ways that only mental strength training can encourage? If you aren’t, the time to start is now.
Why should you care about training your brain? Just like your body, which when put through regular and rigorous exercise, looks better and, more importantly, functions better, so does your brain! Our brains are alive! They are made up of living tissue and neural pathways, and we have to take care of them, stretch them, grow them, or they will atrophy, just like any other muscle in the body. When a muscle decays, it simply can’t work as well or as long – and you want your brain to be in tip-top shape for your entire life. As you put your brain through new experiences and exercises, you create new brain synapses and strengthen neural connections, and as you activate both the left and right sides to work in harmony, you are actually taking your brain on a trip to the gym: the brain gym. But you don’t need an expensive gym membership to start on your way to brain fitness – all you need to do is breathe.
Breathe? What? Well, surely you do that all day long, so you’re golden, right? Probably not. Most people pay very little attention to their breathing. There’s a reason it’s an involuntary reflux – you don’t have to think about it. But unlike other involuntary reflexes (such as digestion) that you can’t control even if you want to, breathing is something you can choose to focus on and control. If you do, you can make it work for you in ways you may never have realized.
You see, our brains are greedy. Studies show that our brains utilize 20% of each breath we take. We need oxygen to survive, but we need to make an effort to supply our brain with even more oxygen to thrive. If you’re satisfied with just being able to survive your life, click away to check your email, but if you want to thrive, keep reading – and breathing – with brain fitness intention.
We would all benefit from 25 extra deep breaths daily to improve the oxygenation and circulation to our brain. But who can be bothered to remember to breathe in a special way when you’ve been surviving all this time without thinking about your breathing? Fortunately for all of us, Breathing for Brain Fitness is as easy as 1, 2, 3.
1. Breathe in through your nose deeply, counting as you do.
2. Hold that breath for your original count PLUS ONE.
3. Push out your breath fully through lightly clenched teeth with a huge smile on your face using a “shee” sound for your original count PLUS TWO. You should hear your exhale clearly.
Complete five deep breaths using this brain fitness method. To see immediate benefits, make a commitment to repeat this exercise five times throughout your day to reach those 25 extra deep breaths! Any schedule works as long as you stick to it, but if you do one set upon waking, another set after breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and one final set before bedtime, you’ll be taking five small but very important breaks to rejuvenate your brain and your life! It’s amazing to see how such a small change can make an impact. Deep breathing is known to positively affect the brain, heart, and the digestive system. But don’t take it from me – try it for yourself.
Tip: Try to work up to a 10 second breath as your ultimate goal. Ten count IN, hold for 11 count, and “shee” out for a full 12 count. In about 90 seconds, you’ll complete a full set of 3 and you will be fully on the road to Brain Fitness Gold!
- Alli Berman is a Brain Fitness expert and the Eye Brain Fitness Guru. She has been an artist, author, educator, creativity consultant, workshop leader, perceptual and sensory products and programs developer, and motivational speaker for the past 30+ years. Berman has served as an educational advisor to the American Academy for Anti-Aging Medicine for over 30 years, and she is the founder of The Art of Rehabilitation and Anti-Aging Art. She created the PuzzleArt Therapy System in collaboration with behavioral optometrist, Susan Fisher, OD, and through consultation with neuroscientists around the world. Berman uses the system herself on a daily basis to keep her own brain as healthy, engaged, and challenged as possible!
- For more information on PuzzleArt Therapy Training schedules visit
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