I recently read an article discussing whether there were benefits to adding mind-motor training to the exercise programs for seniors. Mind-motor training is an activity that engages both cognitive function and movement, which means that while seniors are doing their exercises, they would have to perform a cognitive task. In the article, the seniors performed their mind-motor training by using a “square stepping exercise.” The best way to describe square stepping would be to do hop scotch on a mat. In spite of the fact that the article states that additional testing should be done to decide the advantages of mind-motor training, I wanted to share a few ways I see benefits, and how I incorporate these principles in Omni-Fitt programs.
1. Time efficiency- The one thing that I do with many exercises in my programs, whether they are strength or aerobic, pairs them with another task. In a square stepping exercise, seniors have to use their memory by remembering the stepping pattern while doing the physical exercise. Since the class is only an hour long, it allows me to do more work in in the same amount of time.
2. Brain benefits- From the research in the article, it states that through mind-motor training participants had better cognition, global cognitive functioning, and memory. Despite the fact that they have to do more research to come to a definitive conclusion, I have witnessed in my programs how seniors who have struggled with cognitive tasks in exercise, get better with time and the more they do them.
3. More mental engagement- I find with programs that require people to use their minds more and not just subconsciously exercise, it forces mental engagement. The criticism I have with many exercise programs is that they are exceptionally repetitive and don’t influence individuals to use their minds by either changing the order you do the exercises in, or don’t match cognitive tasks.
In spite of the fact that it is great that seniors are active and exercising, by adding mind-motor training it allows them to get more out of it both physically and mentally.