Archive for the ‘exercises for the brain’ Category

Physical Workouts Aid Brain Health

May 16, 2015

ballroom4The best brain health workouts involve those that integrate different parts of the brain such as coordination, rhythm, and strategy.

According to a study done by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia, exercising for just 20 minutes not only helps your keep in shape physically, it also facilitates the brain’s information processing and memory functions.

When you exercise, your heart rate increases and this pumps more oxygen to your brain while releasing numerous hormones that provide a nourishing environment for the growth of brain cells. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new connections between cells in a wide array of important cortical areas of the brain.

Tips for choosing the right physical exercise:

  • Exercise in the morning—It not only spikes brain activity and prepares you for mental stresses for the rest of the day, but also helps you retain new information and react better to complex situations
  • Aerobic exercise improves brain function and acts as a “first aid kit” for damaged brain cells
  • Activities that incorporate coordination along with cardiovascular exercise—such as ballroom dancing—have a higher impact on cognitive functioning than mental tasks alone
  • At the gym, opt for circuit workouts, which both quickly spike your heart rate and constantly redirect your attention
  • If you’re mentally exhausted, reboot with a few jumping jacks for your brain improvement exercises

Optiminds offers brain fitness programs designed specifically for adults and seniors. These individualized, customized sessions help you take brain performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells and improving cognitive strength and concentration.

Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping students of all ages improve study, reading, math and cognitive skills, including memory. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

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Researchers Still Don’t Know If Cognitive Benefits of Playing Brain Games are Long-Term

January 9, 2015

Brain research has been a very active field in recent years and we continue to learn new things about our brains all the time.

braingames1Scientists now know, for example, that the brain remains malleable even into old age, taking in new information, processing it and sparking new neurons. We also know that any mental workout—from learning a new language to playing computer games—produces changes in the neural systems that support acquisition of the new skill.

But while there is data to support that people who play brain games, for example, get better and faster at playing them the longer they participate, what is not yet known is whether or not these abilities are able to be transferred to everyday, real-world tasks.

As researchers continue to study whether or not activities such as playing brain games have long-term cognitive benefits, it’s good to know that if you find brain games enjoyable, playing them certainly can’t hurt. The best way to keep minds sharp is to remain active and engaged—and that includes physical activity, reading and socializing with friends.

Optiminds offers customized tutoring programs for students, including students who are home schooled. We have earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

Games That Help Enhance Cognitive Skills

December 9, 2014

inchimalsResearch shows that learning skills can be taught—and therefore improved. So if you are looking for some ideas this Christmas for games that will help your children’s learning skills while providing hours of entertainment, here a few affordable ideas to get you started:

For ages three years and older:
Inchimals—Good for teaching young children basic addition, subtraction and measurement skills while reinforcing their ability to count. Includes 12 wooden blocks and a spiral-bound, dry-erase notebook with 100 puzzles.

For ages seven years and older:
Kanoodle—two brain-twisting solitaire games in a pocket-sized case. Kids use combinations of colored connected beads to construct designs from the enclosed puzzle book. Because the game is portable, kids can Kanoodle anywhere.

Double Bananagrams—This award-winning word game needs no pencil, paper, or board. It’s great for travel and with 288 tiles, this version of Bananagrams can be played with up to 16 people.

For ages eight years and older, one or more players:
Bop It—This modern-day, handheld version of “Simon Says” stimulates social interaction plus thinking and motor skills. It also helps children listen and follow directions. Comes in many versions and makes an excellent family or travel game.

Looking for a tutor in the metro Detroit area? Optiminds offers customized tutoring programs for students, including students who are home schooled. We have earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

Drugs That Can Affect Your Memory

November 16, 2014

memorydrugs1Most of us jokingly accept our increasing memory loss as we get on in years. But scientists now know that memory loss as you get older is by no means inevitable. In fact, research increasingly shows that the brain can grow new brain cells and reshape connections throughout life.

There are other factors that might be impairing your memory. Some you may already be familiar with range from alcohol and drug abuse, heavy cigarette smoking, head injuries and stroke to sleep deprivation, severe stress, vitamin B12 deficiency, and illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease and depression.

But what many people don’t realize is that some of today’s most commonly prescribed drugs also can interfere with memory.

Here are 10 of the top categories of offenders and examples of each:

  • Antianxiety drugs (Benzodiazephines) such as Xanax, Librium and Klonopin
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs (Statins) such as Lipitor, Crestor, Pravachol
  • Antiseizure drugs such as Neurontin, Lyrica and Topamax
  • Antidepressant drugs (Tricyclic antidepressants) such as Elavil, Norpramin and Vivactil
  • Narcotic painkillers such as Vicodin, Dilaudid, OxyContin and Percocet
  • Parkinson’s drugs such as Apokyn, Mirapex and Requip
  • Hypertension drugs such as Coreg, Lopressor and Toprol
  • Sleeping aids such as Lunesta, Sonata and Ambien
  • Incontinence drugs such as Detro and Oxytrol
  • Antihistamines such as Benadryl and Chlor-Trimeton

If you take any of these medications and are concerned about memory loss, talk with your doctor or other health care professional about treating your condition with other types of drugs or nondrug treatments. Do not stop or reduce the dosage of your medication without consulting your doctor.

You may also want to sign up for an Optiminds cognitive training program to help boost your memory. Our programs for senior brain fitness are comprised of mental exercises, individually customized to your needs and designed to stimulate targeted areas of your brain.

Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math, cognitive skills and memory of students of all ages. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

Alzheimer’s Update

May 16, 2014

seniorcomputer1Every 67 seconds someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s disease. An estimated 5.2 million Americans currently have Alzheimer’s disease, including approximately 200,000 individuals younger than age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.

The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will escalate rapidly in coming years as the baby boom generation ages. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease may nearly triple, from 5 million to as many as 16 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or stop the disease.

Alzheimer’s is especially hard on women. Of the 5 million people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s in the United States, 3.2 million are women and 1.8 million are men. A woman’s estimated lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer’s at age 65 is 1 in 6, compared with nearly 1 in 11 for a man. Not only are women more likely to have Alzheimer’s, they are also more likely to be caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most expensive condition in the nation. In 2014, the direct costs to American society of caring for those with Alzheimer’s will total an estimated $214 billion, including $150 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. Despite these staggering figures, Alzheimer’s will cost an estimated $1.2 trillion (in today’s dollars) in 2050.

A lifestyle that focuses on physical activity and a healthy diet may help support brain health and prevent Alzheimer’s. You may also want to take advantage of Optiminds’ customized brain training programs for seniors. A mix of mental/emotional exercises, visualization techniques and computerized drills, these programs are designed to increase mental capacity and help you process information better and more quickly.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ by calling us at (248) 496-0150 or email Dr. Stewart at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And visit our website at optiminds.com to learn more about us.

Einstein’s Brain

December 23, 2013

Einstein3An analysis of recently unearthed photos of Albert Einstein’s brain indicate that the father of the theory of relativity had a colossal corpus callosum. That’s the brawny bundle of white matter that carries electrical signals between the brain’s right and left hemispheres, making brain regions with different functions work together.

Scientists believe this fact is part of what made Einstein’s brain so creative. When the corpus callosum works well, the human brain is a marvel of social, spatial and verbal reasoning.

While Einstein’s corpus callosum at the time of his death at age 76 was much better connected than those of similarly aged men, it was not as strikingly more connected than those of healthy young men in a control group.

So what the findings suggest is that Einstein’s extraordinary cognition was related not only to his large corpus callosum but also to enhanced communication routes between some parts of his two brain hemispheres. This might reflect the fact that Einstein continued to exercise his brain strenuously—more like a young person—forestalling much of the atrophy that comes with age.

Check out Optiminds’ programs for adults and seniors, designed to increase mental capacity, process information better and faster, and get your memory up to its peak performance.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at: optimindsct.com.

Brain Exercises for Families on the Go

December 16, 2013

Keeping children occupied and happy while you are driving can be a challenge for busy parents.

Following are some suggestions for engaging the kids mentally, whether you are making the rounds in town or on an extended road trip. Obviously, it’s better and safer if some of the games are conducted by the adult who isn’t the driver.

  • Have your children write down the license plate numbers, make and model, and color of passing cars. Two or more kids can compare who has the most entries in 10 minutes.
  • Ask your children say the alphabet backwards, spell their full name (first, middle, and last) backwards, or recite the pledge of allegiance backwards.
  • Try “category” games. For example, have the kids list—in one minute—all of the colors they know. Try other categories such as breeds of dogs, words that mean red, words that mean small, etc. Make the task harder by having them clip paperclips together while listing things in a category.
  • Make several lists of common words. At first, only one word and ask your children to repeat it. Give them two words and ask them to repeat both words. Keep adding additional words until it looks like the children have reached their capacity for remembering.
  • Keep two or more identical U.S. maps in the car. Starting with your home state, give your kids directions and ask them to follow on the map. Then move to the two states to the east, west, etc. Ask them to find the capital city of the state you are traveling to.
  • Using paper and a pencil, give your children a time on the clock, such as 11:15 am. Ask them to draw that time on a traditional clock face with minute and hour hand, and then show how the same time would appear on a digital clock.  Next tell them to draw the clock as it would appear in 6 hours and thirty minutes. Draw the clock as it appeared 2 hours and 10 minutes ago.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at: optimindsct.com.

Tutoring for Children with Learning Disabilities

July 15, 2013

learndisability1If your child has learning disabilities or Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), they could benefit greatly from the one-on-one attention provided by a qualified tutor. Working in concert with parents and teachers, a tutor can help your child by reinforcing specific subject matter, helping with homework, suggesting improvements in organization and other study skills, and serving to bolster your child’s self-confidence.

A recommendation that your child might profit from working with a tutor often comes from a teacher or a school’s learning specialist or guidance counselor. But as a parent, you are the one who has the deepest insight into your child’s needs and may see the need for tutoring before the school does.

You may want to investigate tutoring for your child if you answer “yes” to one or more of the following questions:

  • Is there a particular subject or type of assignment that almost always gives my child trouble?
  • Does my child have difficulty studying effectively for tests?
  • Does my child have trouble with “executive skills” such as organizing, planning, or seeing a project through to completion?
  • Is my child unhappy or anxious about schoolwork?
  • Is completing homework a recurring battle in my family?
  • Has my child’s teacher (or guidance counselor or learning specialist) suggested tutoring?

Tutoring should not be solely about getting better grades. A tutor can also help your child improve skills and develop more effective ways to study and get their homework done. Your child’s progress depends on many things: the number of sessions, a tutor’s strategies, your child’s cooperation and mood, the assistance of teachers, and the help and support you provide as a parent.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ customized tutoring programs by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at: optimindsct.com.

The Importance of Critical Thinking

July 5, 2013

If we teach children everything we know, their knowledge is limited to ours. If we teach children to think, their knowledge is limitless. Research has found that the more often a student is exposed to critical thinking, the greater the probability the student will transfer critical thinking to other areas of his or her life. 

Simply put, critical thinking is looking at both sides of an issue, then weighing your position based on factual evidence you have gathered on the subject matter. It requires a person to draw inferences from information they’ve been given, and to use deductive skills from all of the gathered facts in order to make an informative decision or to take a position on the subject.

The cornerstone of critical thinking is the ability to ask questions. Teaching children to ask “What if?” and “How can?” questions, for example, sparks exploration and encourages them to think. Critical thinking development can be improved through reading books that both enrich and challenge the mind to ponder on issues or to engage in discussions with other people that provide stimulation for the mind and allow such individuals to test their critical thinking ability during arguments.

Puzzles and other types of games that require the use of logic and reason to solve problems can help in the development of critical thinking skills. There are plenty of opportunities in the course of our daily activities at home and work that can help develop critical thinking skills.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ customized tutoring programs by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at: optimindsct.com.

Everyday Tips for Maintaining and Improving Your Brain

March 25, 2013

Spring is here and it’s a great time to sweep out the mental cobwebs and get your brain in shape. Here are some tips you can implement every day to keep you and your brain on track.

  • Appreciate your brain as a living, constantly changing entity.
  • Nourish your brain with good food. The brain weighs only 2 percent of body mass but consumes over 20 percent of the oxygen and nutrients we take in. The benefits of eating well extend to your brain as well as your body.
  • Your brain benefits from physical activity. Physical exercise enhances neurogenesis, which is the growth of new neurons in the brain.
  • Think positive, future-oriented thoughts. Eventually, they will become your default mindset. Stress and anxiety can kill neurons and subdue the growth of new neurons.
  • Challenge yourself mentally. The point of having a brain is to learn and adapt to new environments. Once you grow new neurons, where and how long they survive in your brain depends on how you use them.
  • Aim high. Always keep learning. The brain keeps developing , no matter your age, and it reflects what you do with it.
  • Be an explorer and traveler. Adapting to new locations forces you to pay more attention to your environment and make new decisions.
  • Don’t outsource your brain to media personalities, politicians or other people. Make your own decisions and your own mistakes—and learn from them.
  • Develop and maintain stimulating friendships. Humans are social animals and need social interaction to thrive.
  • Laugh often, especially to cognitively complex humor.

Above all, practice. Practicing these suggestions every day will turn them into internalized, unstoppable habits.

Concerned about maintaining your mental capacity? Check out our Optiminds Brain fitness programs that take brain performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells, plus improving cognitive and concentration power. Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Call us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.


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