Fit­ness kick for our brains

Sunday Mail - - NEWS - RE­BECCA DIGIROLAMO

THERE’S no “doof doof” mu­sic in this gym, nor floor-to-wall mir­rors. The plasma screens won’t be broad­cast­ing mu­sic videos or day­time TV. They’ll be screen­ing brain teasers.

An Aus­tralian-first fa­cil­ity for age­ing South Aus­tralians will open in Ade­laide next year and it’s more about the brain than the brawn.

As we age, the neu­ro­plas­tic­ity of the brain nat­u­rally de­clines, says the gym’s founder and Parkin­son’s SA CEO Olivia Nas­saris.

Ms Nas­saris says the de­ple­tion of dopamine as we get older af­fects move­ment, mood, be­hav­iour, sleep, cog­ni­tive func­tion and mo­ti­va­tion, which has sig­nif­i­cant im­pli­ca­tions on the health and aged care sys­tems.

But it can be im­proved, she says, with re­search re­peat­edly show­ing 45 min­utes of neu­ro­plas­tic­ity in­duc­ing ex­er­cise three times a week can have a sig­nif­i­cant af­fect on brain func­tion.

“We have the amaz­ing abil­ity to re­shape the phys­i­cal struc­ture of our brain and im­prove its func­tion through neu­ro­plas­tic­ity train­ing ex­er­cises,” she says.

Ms Nas­saris has de­vel­oped the na­tion’s first pur­pose-built sports brain fa­cil­ity and hopes more within the health and aged care sec­tors will take brain health se­ri­ously.

“We are re­ally try­ing to en­cour­age peo­ple to keep their brains healthy as well as their body.”

At the Brain X Body Fit­ness Stu­dio, to open in Un­ley in Jan­uary, mid­dle-age par­tic­i­pants and older will mix tra­di­tional and non-tra­di­tional car­dio, strength and flex­i­bil­ity based ex­er­cise with brain ex­er­cise for bet­ter neu­ro­plas­tic­ity. It is also for those with Parkin­son’s dis­ease or need­ing brain rehabilitation.

Among the first to join is 59-yearold re­tired ac­coun­tant An­drew White, from Dul­wich. “A nor­mal gym will fo­cus on ap­pear­ance, weight loss and mus­cle tone – which are great, but they’re not on my pri­or­ity list right now,” he says.

Prof­its will fund re­search and sup­port ser­vices for South Aus­tralians with Parkin­son’s dis­ease.

TRAIN­ING: Parkin­son’s SA CEO Olivia Nas­saris pre­pares re­tiree An­drew White, 59, of Dul­wich, to test some men­tal teasers at a gym for the brain.

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