I'm not a big fan of brain exercises per se. Doing crossword puzzles, for instance, simply makes you better at doing crossword puzzles. Your brain is a big huge vibrant organ, and it needs big huge vibrant tasks to thrive and grow.
Physical exercise turns out to be one of these, and the risk of Alzheimer's is 40% lower in fit people than in sedentary people. It is, however, not the only way, and may not be even the most important way. Really meaningful social and intellectual engagement is the other way to turn on your brain. Friendships, and family, count for a huge amount, but being involved in projects with other people, or individual projects you care deeply about and work hard at, has enormous benefit as well.
To my mind, the projects have to be serious, though they can be for profit, not for profit, or purely personal interest and passions. I think we need to simply be in harness in many directions in our lives, to have our brains fully challenged and growing, and really truly living your life fully -- physically and emotionally, and intellectually -- seems to me to be the only way to accomplish this, and the best way to live your life anyway!View Thread
When I was in medical school, we were taught that you got all your brain cells by the time you were two years old. And by age 30, you start to lose them. Cognitive aging was simply the slow, steady loss of brain cells that occurred as you age. Well, it turns out this was wrong! Scientists around the world have demonstrated that your brain can continue to grow throughout your life -- growing new cells, forming new connections, and rewiring existing ones. But this only happens if you use it. An idle brain will wither and decay, which leads to the decline in cognitive function that we once accepted as being part of the normal aging process.
There are two great roads to rejuvenating your brain, and they might surprise you: -Exercise. MRI studies show marked growth in new brain tissue after three months of regular exercise. This growth is not just in the parts of the brain that control movement. It's also evident in the areas responsible for memory, decision-making, and judgment.
-Social Connectedness. Your brain grows and thrives in direct proportion with the meaningful social connections you have -- meaning your engagement with friends, family, and your community. People who are lonely and depressed actually lose brain tissue overtime and show marked reductions in cognitive function. But people who stay connected with others and give back to their communities improve their chances of staying vibrant and sharp well into their later years.
There's a wonderful scientific study going on that's a great example of the power of staying connected. A program called Experience Corps is putting older people in schools as reading tutors for young kids. The kids are doing better, of course. But the tutors are doing better too -- a lot better! All markers of health are improving -- blood pressure and weight are going down, and mood and energy are going up. What's also interesting is that a wide range of blood tests that measure inflammation (linked to long-term risks of heart attack, stroke, and common cancers) also show improvement with social connection and emotional involvement!
Are you surprised at the control we can have over our brain health? Could this prompt you to make different lifestyle choices?View Thread
Aching joints, weight gain, loss of energyâ€¦Most people think that problems like these are inevitable with aging. But what if I told you that roughly 70% of "standard" American aging is optional? It's NOT a relentless tide. We now have a whole new understanding of the basic cellular mechanisms involved with aging, way down at the molecular level. And the stunning news from the front lines of science is that you have a choice. You can choose to become functionally younger by years, even decades, by making changes in how you live. These changes, not so surprisingly, involve exercise, nutrition, and your emotional health.
If you've let things slide for a while, you might be wondering if it's too late, if there's too much water under the bridge -- or maybe too many calories. Not at all! Studies have shown that your body can renew itself all the way into your 90s if you work hard enough to maintain physical function, and if you stay socially, emotionally, and intellectually engaged. This is the way to becoming Younger Next Year , and next decade.
Let's start with a few questions for you: How do you want to live your life in your 70s? How about in your 80s? In what ways have you aged that you're most interested in turning around? Will you commit to some good, old-fashioned work to make those turn-arounds happen?View Thread
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