Exercise Prescription for Your Brain
Often times I get a look of surprise, and sometimes loathing, when I give home exercise prescription. "I want you to do this exercise 5-8x/day." What?! Yes, I said it...5-8x/day. But remember the exercises only take 3-5 minutes for the most part, so this isn't a huge chunk out of the day. Now I know this seems like a lot, but you have to understand how neurons build new connections (termed neuroplasticity) to understand why the frequency needs to be high. Think of neurorehabilitation as a stair step approach. When you do a specific brain exercise, whether it be visual, vestibular or proprioceptive, your neurons start making proteins. This promotes a healthy environment, strengthens connections and makes the neuron more negatively charged, thus bringing that neuron further away from threshold which makes it more stable (this is a good thing!) When the exercise is done, the neuron will slowly stop producing and making new connections, so before it has a chance to go back to where it was before the first exercise, you introduce another group of exercises to stimulate the neuron even more (think getting to the next step up). So why not do a bunch of exercises all at once and get it done for the day? Neurons are not like muscle cells. You work a muscle cell too hard, it develops lactic acid. You work a neuron too hard, it can die. In the biz we call this "your brain getting fried." This can actually lead to you feeling worse. Do the exercises for short bursts, frequently throughout the day after making sure your blood sugar levels are stable and you are well oxygenated and watch your brain heal itself.