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Brain Fitness for Total Well-Being

“Basically, whatever’s good for your heart is good for your head,” Lawrence Whalley, MD, told HealthDay News (2006; April 30). Whalley, author of The Aging Brain (Columbia University Press 2003), is a psychiatrist and professor of mental health with the School of Medicine at Scotland’s University of Aberdeen. “[The] factors that everyone knows predispose to heart disease also predispose to dementia.”

But if eating well and exercising regularly are vital, you will be doing your brain a favor if—in addition—you keep it stimulated.

“The more you do mentally stimulating activities—such as crossword puzzles or playing chess—the better it is,” said Joe Verghese, MD, assistant professor of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

Putting theory into practice, Lawrence Biscontini, MA, spa consultant and 2004 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year, has added “Mental Muscle: Improving Your IQ” to the weekly group fitness and wellness schedule at the Golden Door Spa in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. “Mental Muscle” is described as “working out the brain.” Each class includes a series of short exercises that challenge both long- and short-term memory as well as multiple brain functions, like executive, social, emotional, language, math and spatial skills.

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Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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