Shawn Arent, an exercise scientist at Rutgers University, says “a minimum of three days per week, for a structured physical exercise program. Technically, you should do something every day, and by something I mean physical activity — just move. However, many of us neglect our brain fitness.
The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control reported that about four million American households include at least one adult suffering from rising memory confusion or loss. Unfortunately, countless people are unaware of the proper steps to monitoring brain health. The author of Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance, Dr. Majid Fotuhi, Neurologist of the NeurExpand Brain Center developed a memory test that reveals just how healthy ones brain is which gives users an idea of how they can improve their brain health.
His Fotuhi Brain Fitness Calculator is based on 25 years of research, clinical and teaching experience at Harvard and Johns Hopkins. He has published several articles about factors that shrink or expand the brain. He created an odometer-type scale that indicates the strength of each of risk factors and each protective factor called “brain meters.”
The memory test consists of 19 general screening question. After each question is answered, tally your score to see which category you fall into. Green is considered “good”; Yellow suggests you need “a checkup”; and Red indicates that you such seek a “health care professional”.
Note: The questionnaire is not intended to be fully comprehensive and should not be used as a medical diagnosis.
Directions: Select the number that closest matches you. Calculate your score to see where you fall on the ‘Fotuhi Brain Fitness Calculator’.
|Stress||High stress, daily||Occasional stress, not daily||Rare stress, only once in a while (with deadlines, etc.)|
|Laughter||Rarely laugh, usually grumpy||Occasional laughter||Cheerful and smiling most of the time|
|Blood pressure||Usually 140/90 or higher||Usually between 120/80 and 140/90||Usually 120/80 or lower|
|Smoking||Smoke daily||Occasional smoke (or quit smoking)||Never smoke|
|Alzheimer’s in the family||More than 2 members of the family have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease||Only one member of the family has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease||Nobody in the family has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease|
|Sleep||Usually less than 6 hours a night||Usually 6 to 7 hours a night||Usually about 7 to 8 hours a night|
|Snoring||Occasional snoring, mild sleepiness during the day||Occasional smoke (or quit smoking)||Quite and restful sleep|
|Activity level||Couch potato||Usually active, but no formal exercise||Keep an active lifestyle and exercise regularly|
|Brain safety||No seat belts, no helmets during biking or contact sports||Occasional use of seat belts and helmets||Conscious about safety, regular use of seat belts and helmets|
|Fitness level||Compared to people my age, I am out of shape||Compared to people my age, I am in average shape||Compared to people my age, I am in great shape|
|Social engagement||Usually isolated and alone||Occasional social activities, 1-2 months||Regular social activities every week|
|Alcohol use||Three or more glasses of alcohol per day||No alcohol at all||1-2 glasses of alcohol per day|
|Food quantity||Eat large portions, enjoy second servings||Eat occasional large portions, no second servings||Small and reasonable portions, no second servings|
|Food quality||Junk food (such as French fries, doughnuts or salty foods)||Occasional junk food, usually heart-healthy diet||Heart-healthy diet, zero junk food|
|DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid)||No DHA or nutritional supplements||Occasional DHA supplements||Daily use of DHA supplements|
|Mood||Sad, irritable and/or depressed most of the time||Occasional irritability, but generally pleasant||Upbeat, cheerful, and agreeable most of the time|
|Mindfulness Meditation||Never practice any form of meditation or relaxation||Occasional meditation or relaxation||Daily mediation and/or relaxation|
|Attitude||Usually pessimist, negative, and hopeless||Occasional negative thoughts, usually positive attitude||Always optimist and positive attitude|
|Memory Stimulation||No effort in memorizing names, facts, or stats||Occasional efforts in memorizing names, facts, or stats||Always eager to memorize names, facts, or stats|
|Sense of curiosity||No interest in learning new things or exploring the world||Occasional interest in learning new things and exploring the world||Usually eager and enthusiastic to learn new things and explore the world|
Green: 50-60: Good news: You have a brain-healthy lifestyle. There’s always room for improvement, though, so please start working on areas where your score was not perfect.
Yellow: 31 to 49: Your lifestyle needs a checkup. You need to identify key weaknesses and devote a strong effort to strengthening them, while maintaining brain-healthy habits in other areas.
Red: 20 to 30: Your brain is need of some TLC. Your goal should be to improve your scores across the board. This may involve some major lifestyle changes. Think about which changes you can realistically make and which will have the biggest impact. You need to discuss areas in which you have a low score with your doctor or a health care professional.
Remember…Whether you’re trying to get your brain back into shape or you just want to keep it as strong as it is now, brain fitness is key!