AWT Health Club: Keeping your brain sharp

Last week's Health Club topic was motivation; it appears that I needed some. My week was pathetically bad, with my excuses being that I had to move my parents back to their home after my Dad's stay at a local skilled nursing facility and that once again, it was rainy. On the plus side, this week is forecast to be sunnier, warmer and drier than last, and I will be able to devote more time to my health.

Our topic this week is keeping your brain sharp. Work by scientists and the medical research community has shown that it should be possible for the brain to be “trained” to create new pathways and places for memory and cognition to occur. You’ve probably seen and heard ads from Lumosity, which talk about neuroplasticity and how their games can help memory and other brain skills at any age.

Lumosity (free with in-app purchases) and Rosetta Stone’s Fit Brains (free with in-app purchases) are both apps from companys that have background in training and memory. While I haven’t used Lumosity, I do use Fit Brains Trainer.

The biggest issue I have with these apps is how expensive the required subscriptions are. For example, Fit Brains Trainer has a befuddling variety of subscriptions ranging from $4.99 (or is it $5.99?) for three months of full access, up to $49.99 for Lifetime full access OR $59.99 for a premium membership. Nowhere have I found exactly what the difference is between the plans, which makes me wonder if I either got a bargain or got ripped off. Trying to figure out the Fit Brains Trainer subscription costs is a brain teaser by itself!

Lumosity also has a confusing array of subscriptions. A one-month subscription is either $11.99 or $14.99, while a one year subscription is either $59.99 or $79.99.

The games in both apps are basically designed to train memory, attention, processing speed, concentration, problem solving and visual-spatial skills. In Fit Brains Trainer, there are games that have you find matching pairs of letters or numbers in a grid that gets larger as time goes by. Another game has you look at two game boards covered with items and tap the items that have changed. There are games that have you tap on silhouettes of similar items in a grid, with some of the items rotated to give them a different look.

I sometimes find the Fit Brains Trainer “Performance” score — calculated at the end of a session of games — to be confusing. In other words, I can do well in all five games in a session, yet my score goes down! The Fit Brains Trainer app also gives you a score compared to others who are doing the same tests, so you can feel good (or bad) about that as well.

Both Lumosity and Fit Brains Trainer now have Apple Watch companions, which I think is a great idea. Now regardless of where you are, you have immediate access to some training games on your wrist. Perfect!

Let me know in the comments if you’ve used either of these brain training programs, how you like them, and if you feel that they’re helping you to gain or maintain mental sharpness.

Health Club Members!

Rather than having to post your progress on the Apple World Today Facebook page, I’ve created a group that’s strictly set up for us. You’ll need to be invited to the group; please use the email button on the right sidebar to send me the email address you use for Facebook so I can invite you.

My weekly stats:

  • Weight: 193.1 lbs
  • Change from last week: +0.2 lbs
  • Steps taken each day: M-3585, T-1907, W-1816, TH-4601, F-1742, SA-3128, SU-2565
  • Average steps per day last week: 2763 (-1389 from previous week)
  • Move (Active Calorie Goal: 550) - 5/7
  • Exercise - 0/7 (what is this thing called... exercise?)
  • Stand - 5/7

Let’s hear how you did! Let’s get moving!