Embrace The Chaos
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.