Remember, it is not important whether these exercises are easy or difficult.
Over the course of the program, the participant will engage in numerous cognitive processes which is what will keep the healthy areas of their brain active.
This is what can build and strengthen their cognitive reserve and increase their brain’s neuroplasticity to help slow dementia-related decline.
There may be steps that they cannot complete depending on what area(s) of the brain have been damaged.
Use the Process-Focused Strategy Phrases to encourage them as much as possible and only complete the steps that they are unable to complete at all.
What matters is the participant attempts each of the steps to the best of their ability at this moment.
Complete the Seated Stretch exercises before beginning to increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain.
To relieve anxiety, also do the Just Breathe! exercise or one of the Mindfulness Moments exercises.
Complete the GIG of the Day Emotional Support Activities prior to beginning Brainercise so everyone will be in a positive, happy state of mind.
Before beginning the exercises, have the participant look back and forth to the right and then to the left a few times without moving the head.
Science suggests this movement increases concentration and problem-solving ability.
The first 10 Brainercise Exercises are designed to help you become familiar with the steps of the physical exercises in Breathing, Motion & Mindfulness as quickly as possible.
This is important because Brainercise Exercises have shown to be more effective when done in combination with these Emotional Support Activities and physical fitness routines.
The sooner you and the participant become comfortable doing these, the more likely you are to be committed to doing them throughout the program.
Brainercise Day 1
Practice Just Breathe!
If available, use a relaxing aromatherapy scent like lemon, lavender, jasmine, cinnamon, or peppermint prior to beginning the exercise.
If needed to encourage calmness, turn the lights down low while maintaining enough light for safety.
Choose a comfortable but sturdy chair that has a flat seat.
Close your eyes if it is safe to do so.
Sit up as tall as possible with your shoulders relaxed but try not to slouch.
Close your mouth and slowly breathe in through the nose as deeply as you can.
Focus on expanding your abdomen instead of your chest.
Repeat 5 times or until the desired effect is reached.
After you have practiced Just Breathe!, click here to read 10 interesting facts about animal lungs: https://www.lung.org/blog/animal-lung-facts
Brainercise Day 2
Practice Arm Stretches
Sit up as straight as possible without straining.
Lift both arms above the head as high as you can.
Spread all your fingers open as wide as possible then open and close both fists 10 times.
Spread your fingers open again and keep them open during the leaning and swaying moves.
Lean as far to the left as you comfortably and safely can and hold the lean for a count of 5.
Repeat the left lean 10 times.
Follow the same instructions but lean to the right 10 times.
Now, with your fingers still stretched open, sway from left to right 10 times.
After you have practiced the Arm Stretches, see how many items you can name that stretch.
Brainercise Day 3
Practice Knee Lifts
Lift your left knee up and hold it for a count of 5.
Lift your right knee up and hold it for a count of 5.
Now alternate lifting the left and right knees for a count of 10 times while holding for a count of 5 in between lifts.
As you practice Knee Lifts, do this to add cognitive stimulation: Raise your right arm every time you lift your left knee and raise your left arm every time you raise your right knee. “Neuroscientists have long known that cross-body movements help the left and right hemispheres of your brain to connect and coordinate. This is important because the more your hemispheres connect, the more optimally you perform on any given task.” – BY MELANIE CURTIN, WRITER, ACTIVIST @MELANIEBCURTIN
Brainercise Day 4
Practice Big Hugs
Wrap your arms around your shoulders and squeeze yourself in a big hug.
Hold the squeeze for a count of 5 and release.
Relax your arms at your side.
Shake your shoulders 5 times.
Repeat the steps 10 times.
After you practice Big Hugs, learn more bout the benefits of hugs here: https://www.thehealthy.com/mental-health/benefits-of-hugging/
Brainercise Day 5
Practice Foot Circles
Raise your left foot off the ground at a height that is comfortable for you.
Point your toes outward and rotate your foot to the left 10 times.
Repeat the rotation to the right 10 times.
Switch to the right leg and repeat the steps.
Repeat all the steps 10 times.
As you practice Foot Circles, look around the room you are in. How many circles can you find? Look for large and small examples.
Brainercise Day 6
Practice Air Boxing
Bend both arms in towards your chest.
Make fists in both hands.
Starting with the left arm, extend it out in front of you as if you are boxing.
Bring in the left arm as you extend the right arm.
Continue alternating arms for a count of 20.
Do not actually hit anyone during the exercise!
After you have practiced Air Boxing, name 3 things that come in a small ox. Then name 5 things that come in a medium-sized box. Lastly, name 8 things that come in a large box.
Brainercise Day 7
Practice the Relax & Unwind Exercise
While sitting, inhale deeply through the mouth then blow out as hard as possible.
While remaining seated, lift only your right shoulder up and down 10 times.
Lift only your left shoulder up and down 10 times.
Actively relax both shoulders. (The body naturally tightens in this area to “protect you from being physically attacked” when you have even a small amount of stress.)
While both arms are dangling, gently shake them at your side for 15 seconds.
Stretch out both your legs and rest your heels on the floor.
Gently bounce your knees up and down for 15 seconds.
Roll your feet from side to side 10 times without lifting your heels off the floor.
Bend your knees and sit up straight without straining.
Close your eyes and try to think of nothing for 30 seconds.
Take another deep breath and exhale.
After you have practiced the Relax and Unwind technique, think about other things that help you feel relaxed. What is your favorite? ©2020 Brain Stim, LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED