Cognitive Workout

More news on the mental fitness front:

Cognitive Fitness as a New Frontier of Fitness

For decades, physicians and scientists asserted that declining mental performance is an immutable fact of aging. Brain cells inexorably are lost with age and wear-and-tear, they believed. And unlike most other organs capable of self-repair, lost brain cells cannot be replaced, they said.

But the past 15 years have brought about a revolution in thinking about the brain — not only its ability to generate replacement cells but to respond at any age to a stimulating environment by strengthening and developing new connections between cells and among different regions of the brain.

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Now change “cognitive fitness programs” to “cognitive fitness video game” and there you go. Bonnie knows wassup:

Bonnie Theis, a 65-year-old from St. Cloud, Minn., now spends roughly $10 per month on Happy Neuron’s cognitive fitness programs, after putting in “way too much time in front of the boob tube” following her recent retirement from library science. The Happy Neuron program, designed by French neuroscientists and widely used in Europe, “takes itself very seriously” but is fun to use and has coached her to improve in the areas in which her performance is weakest, said Theis. After spending some time with the program most days for a year, she feels her attention to details in her environment has sharpened, her memory has improved and her response time to cues like traffic signs seems faster. And that perceived improvement is all she needs to justify the expenditure of time and money in a program.

“How much proof do you need to go see a movie? The expense is the same,” said Theis. “It’s $10 a month — big whoopee deal. . . . And the time I spend on it would be time spent doing a hand-held Sudoku game or watching TV. I’d prefer to be learning while being entertained.

Effect on mental and physical fitness

Ok so the idea is how one might be able to utilize games not just for entertainment but as a means to improve oneself. How can games improve mental and physical fitness? I’ll just touch upon these ideas and get into more detail later.

Concerns about video game’s effect on the brain and it’s link to violence and attention span have long been debated. In a similar vein though, games have been lauded to improve problem solving and multitasking skills. Now games such as BrainAge use gaming platforms to train people’s brain. Studies and experiments are being flung about and i’ll start to post them here as i come across them.

A no-brainer is how games can get more interactive and improve physical fitness. I’ve been saying for YEARS how video games have sucha potential to make workouts fun. I can sit down and play a fun game for HOURS, workouts though seem to last forever. Making exercise fun through video games can make exercise rewarding enough to get in shape. Bally’s and all those workout places need machines all hooked up like an arcade with leader boards, progress tracking and interactive assisted coaching. Imagine that! In the very least it wouldn’t be so hard to make an interface from workout machine as a controller at home to video game console. The technology is here, we just need the creative to build it!