“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.