Brain games, e.g., parkour

Have been reading in Soft-Wired about how our brains are inextricably linked to our bodies’ movements. The most recent chapters point out that myriad parts of our brains are becoming deadened from disuse.

Long ago we used our bodies and senses to survive and thrive in a dangerous environment. We listened closely for noises that might warn us of potential threats, hiked across uneven surfaces and climbed around obstacles, thereby maintaining our hearing and balance.

Now we sit for hours in sterile environments where sounds, smells, and visual stimuli are kept to a minimum. Even when walking outside, we put in ear buds that further block any natural sounds that might send signals to those areas of the brain. Those segments of the brain that formerly received regular fresh infusions of blood, which accompanied signal sending, now only receive minimal blood flow.

According to what I read, the overall health of our brains depends on each segment being in good condition, which means regularly using those parts of the brain that are now going unused.

Another point made in the book is that going to the gym isn’t stimulating brain areas due to the unthinking nature of the movements, e.g., running on a treadmill or doing weight lifting repetitions. We need to surprise our brains and force them to process information such as what would be the best move for climbing this rock face? Nature is so important for reasons we didn’t realize.

How then to stimulate brain areas that aren’t currently getting any input? Thinking about this reminded me immediately of parkour. According to the Wikipedia definition, this training method developed from military style obstacle courses where people climb, run, and jump their way to get from one place to another.

So… the goal for me will be to find a playground with equipment that I can climb, places to run, and things to jump. Goal set!

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