Em­brace The Chaos

06

Men's Health (UK) - - Time -

Re­searcher and TED speaker, Bar­bara Ar­row­smith-young, re­fused to ac­cept her di­ag­no­sis as a ‘slow’ child. By de­vel­op­ing ex­er­cises to tar­get spe­cific re­gions of the brain, she for­ti­fied her grey mat­ter to be­come one of the lead­ing minds in her field. And you can do the same when faced with men­tal stick­ing points.

As a child, Ar­row­smith-young strug­gled to un­der­stand even the most ba­sic con­cepts un­til, aged 26, she read about a Rus­sian sol­dier who had been shot in the brain. The bul­let de­stroyed his left oc­cip­i­tal-tem­po­ral-pari­etal re­gion – the area where in­com­ing in­for­ma­tion is fil­tered. Recog­nis­ing her own dif­fi­cul­ties, she be­gan to re­search the pow­ers of men­tal re­ju­ve­na­tion. The idea that the brain con­tin­ues to shape it­self through­out life – and that by train­ing spe­cific ar­eas, weak links can be forged anew – was a rev­e­la­tion. Ar­row­smith-young ded­i­cated her life to pur­su­ing this the­ory.

By adopt­ing a sim­i­lar ap­proach, you can boost your own brain growth to be­come a fit­ter, more co­or­di­nated man. A study by the Uni of South Carolina il­lus­trates the brain’s adap­tiv­ity: mice were made to run on a tread­mill ev­ery day for two months. At the end of the study, re­searchers found that mi­to­chon­dria – cells’ en­ergy packs – had grown not just in their mus­cles, but also in their brains.

But run- of-the-mill car­dio isn’t the only – or even smartest – way to ben­e­fit. Spa­tial aware­ness, for ex­am­ple, is the re­mit of the right su­pe­rior tem­po­ral cor­tex, and per­form­ing new move­ments in the gym can home in on this sec­tion of the brain. So mix up your rou­tine. Swap dumb­bells for ket­tle­bells, grab a sand­bag, then pick up a Bul­gar­ian bag. Forc­ing your brain to sweat a lit­tle harder can lead to per­ma­nent cere­bral progress. Not to men­tion se­ri­ous ku­dos.

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