Do you have a “brain game” on at least one of your electronic devices? Most of us do. Studies have shown for years that video games improve hand-eye coordination and increase our mental capacities but do video games give the same results as playing a sport? Or taking a walk? Don’t get me wrong, I love a good game of Sudoku as much as the next gal, but I often wonder if I’m really helping my brain enough when playing.
My curiosity led me to a discussion led by Drs. Arthur Kramer (University of Illinois) and Laura Baker (University of Washington School of Medicine). Their commentary and recent studies explored this theory in detail.
In one study, Dr. Baker and her team studied older people, age 70 on average, who suffered from mild cognitive issues. After six months of aerobic exercise, the participants experienced a higher attention rate and were better able to switch tasks quickly. They also were able to process information more quickly. It’s important to note that other studies have been done in younger age groups with similar results.
Dr. Baker’s research would lead you to believe that a routine exercise schedule would improve your mental capacity overall. To test the potential benefits of exercise with regard to multitasking, let’s look at another study. Dr. Kramer’s group asked college students to take virtual “walks” across the street while talking on their cell phones or listening to their music players. The results? Those in the group that were athletes made it across safely more often.
Both Dr. Baker and Dr. Kramer stressed that any activity will boost your brain power if it requires your heart and lungs to work harder than normal. There is no specific formula, just get out there and do any exercise that you enjoy! As for the video games? Save those for a rainy day when you can’t get to the track. They are better for you than television. But on days that you can, opt for a workout for your brain. It is the key to having a better brain!