brain training and fitness

Australians big on brain fitness

Three out of four Australians believe in the power of brain fitness to stave off cognitive decline and diseases like dementia.

“Australians are big believers in the power of ‘use it or lose it’,” says Prof Peter Schofield, CEO of Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA).

“Our national survey of attitudes to brain health shows that most people do something at least a few times a week to maintain the fitness of their brain,” he says.

The national survey, commissioned by Neuroscience Research Australia, polled 1000 Australians aged 18 to over 75.

The results indicate that many Australians take part in regular physical activity and maintain a healthy blood pressure specifically with their brain health in mind.

Completing crossword puzzles was the most popular ‘brain training’ activity, followed by games like chess and Sudoku.

Participation in cognitively demanding activities like puzzle solving, playing musical instruments and card games like Bridge has been associated with a lower risk of dementia, says Prof Schofield.

“Encouraging older Australians to read, play board games and go ballroom dancing will enhance their quality of life and can provide protection against dementia,” he says.

NeuRA hosts the annual Bridge for Brain Research Challenge in May to raise funds for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia research.

“We are encouraging all Bridge players around Australia – young, old, experienced players and novices – to take part in our challenge and help us trump Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias,” says Prof Schofield.

The Bridge for Brain Research Challenge will take place nationally on 1–7 May 2011.