'Brain Gyms' Offer Grey Matter Workouts

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2009 5:18 AM CDT
Nintendo has sold over 5 million copies of its "Brain Age" mental fitness software.   (PRNewsFoto/Nintendo)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – Gyms offering to exercise the brain instead of the body are attracting thousands of aging Americans seeking to tone their gray matter, the Wall Street Journal reports. The gyms are generally based around brain-fitness software, but some offer courses in brain nutrition as well as mental-fitness assessments with personal trainers and "neurobics."

Patrons—including one 82-year-old doctor who decided to come out of retirement after training at a "Nifty After Fifty" center—say the brain exercises are keeping them sharp and boosting their memories. Studies show that brain exercises definitely improve memory functions, although the long-term benefits are unclear and some scientists accuse the brain gyms of trying to cash in on the public’s fear of Alzheimer's disease.