Strengthening the Brain, Compliementary Training


I have an interesting article and website to share with you.  If you’re a reader then congratulations, there’s lots to read here.  If you’re an exercise professional who’s also a reader (Do exercise professionals who don’t read exist?) then even better.  If you’re a fitness enthusiast with a hungry brain, then fantastic as well.

Can You Build a Better Brain?

First, an article from Newsweek called Can You Build a Better Brain? speaks to much of what we discuss in Z-Health.  Brain and nervous system function are at the “heart” of everything for us.  Pain, performance, and obviously cognition are all rooted in brain function.  The question is, how best can we improve brain function?  Various means have been proposed to improve brain fitness.  But from puzzles, vitamins, fish oil, antioxidants, non-steroidal anti-inflamatories (NSAIDs), to the Mediterranean Diet, very few strategies have been shown to provide any benefit when studied rigorously.  I won’t go into the whole article but there are important points I’d like to share with you.  First, from the article:

“The rule that ‘neurons that fire together, wire together’ suggests that cognitive training should boost mental prowess. Studies are finding just that, but with a crucial caveat. Training your memory, reasoning, or speed of processing improves that skill, found a large government-sponsored study called Active. Unfortunately, there is no transfer: improving processing speed does not improve memory, and improving memory does not improve reasoning. Similarly, doing crossword puzzles will improve your ability to?.?.?.?do crosswords. ‘The research so far suggests that cognitive training benefits only the task used in training and does not generalize to other tasks,”’says neuroscientist Yaakov Stern of Columbia University.

The holy grail of brain training is something that does transfer, and here there are three good candidates…”

And what are these magical activities?

  1. Physical exercise
  2. Meditation
  3. Some video games

The article concludes:

“Few games or training programs have been tested to this extent, and many of those that have been come up short. Those with increasing levels of difficulty and intense demands on attentional capacity—focus as well as switching—probably do the most good … as does taking a brisk walk in between levels.”

Further indication that there is NO difference between the body and the mind.  We need a new word that encompasses both concepts.  What should that word be…?

Complimentary Training

There’s quite an impressive if also quite technical blog I’ve come across called Complimentary Training.  It’s written by Serbain coach Mladen Jovanovich.  His sports background is basketball, soccer, volleyball, martial arts and tennis.  I’ve just started digging into it.  It’s packed with a lot of technical information, much of it on periodization.  It looks like a very useful resource.  Dig into it if you dare.

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