by Dan Lawler, Ph.D.

Most often wellness programs focus on improving employee fitness levels along with emphasizing good nutrition.  Seldom is any specific attention given to retaining and improving the functions of the brain.

“A life-long commitment to stimulating brain activity contributes to quality of life, especially in the later years. Exercises that promote brain health vary widely and include physical activities such as walking and intellectually stimulating activities. Among other benefits, brain exercise activities work to facilitate quick thinking, promote quick reflexes and develop better short- and long-term memory”. (Judy Al-Ahmary, eHow Contributor).
Recently, health organizations are adding a new dimension to wellness programs by looking at the brain as any other muscle or organ in the body.  There is strong science behind the concept of focusing on particular brain functions.  The idea is to exercise the brain and improve it by using challenging memory games and tasks to improve thinking and memory for employees.  Many companies have developed programs to enhance the functions of the brain.  One of most ingenious ideas was developed by Dr. Bergeron and his team from Brain Center of America (BCA).  Dr. Bergeron has developed brain stimulating exercises that will enhance the effectiveness of the brain and incorporated those strategies with a simultaneous cardio workout.  In a very unique approach, Brain Center of America (BCA) has combined traditional fitness goals with brain exercises utilizing an interactive apparatus called the BrainBike.

The physician-owned BCA, which pioneers brain-fitness programs designed to improve memory, concentration, multitasking and a complete range of mental abilities, developed the NeuroActive BrainBike to enable users to combine cardio workouts with brain workouts on what is, literally, a “brain gym.” It comprises a technologically advanced recumbent stationary bike coupled with a specially adapted interactive brain-training program displayed on an all-in-one PC screen. The BrainBike optimizes the ability to improve brain function by integrating the advantages that exercise has on improving blood flow to the brain with very engaging brain stimulating exercises.

The BrainBike offers a new and innovative way to keep the aging brain sharp.  TheBrainBike software program uses advanced artificial intelligence to continuously analyze a person’s performance and adapts and customizes the training to each individual.  The bike riding and brain exercise experience improves not only the heart but also memory, visual skills processing speed, and other important brain functions.  Studies have shown that stimulating brain exercises may even help thwart Alzheimer’s diseases, dementia, and memory loss.

In a recent effort conducted by Aetna Health a wellness program was developed to provide online assessments and interactive games for employee brain health.  The focus of their work was to improve upon four key areas of brain performance: emotion, thinking, feeling, and self-regulation.  This is another example of how the new wellness initiatives are likely to include a focus on brain health as well as an emphasis on fitness and nutrition.

Every employer strives to increase productivity within their work force and every fitness center strives to provide the best equipment and environment to improve body and mind health.  One new and innovative strategy can be added to traditional approaches by including brain health as a new component of an overall wellness program.  The BrainBike offers the traditional wellness focus by improving cardio vascular health but also adds the ability to improve brain health simultaneously for all employees.  Soon the BrainBike will be coming to a fitness club or wellness effort for you!!!

For more information contact Motion Fitness at 1-847-963-8969 or at www.exergamefitness.com.