Everyone, every day is aging. But today’s retirees, as well as Baby Boomers soon to retire are not content whiling away time. They want and demand more from their later years. The good news is that a hunger to learn more is an incredible asset. When you have that, it can translate to better cognitive and physical health. With the passing of time come the inevitable challenges associated with aging. But healthy, active adults can enrich their lives when they engage in learning something new each day of the week.
The frontier of our lifetime is our brain. Its neurological universe is vast and complicated. The more information we uncover about the brain, the more we understand how key the brain is to healthy aging. As we get older our brain cells deteriorate. The connections (synapses), like millions of tiny phone lines, lose their connectivity. These connections are the pathways for everything we feel, think and understand. Preventing the loss of neurons and synaptic connectivity is essential to brain health throughout life. As yet there is no guaranteed fountain of youth, but you can do many things to feel youthful and help your brain stay fit.
The brain is much like the heart – it needs to be active and fed right. Think of the brain this way – it requires exercise much in the way that the heart needs physical activity to remain strong. In an important brain health research study at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, researchers found that the brain benefits from an increased blood supply and increased oxygen levels. The study says that aerobic exercise is key to the brain receiving sufficient blood supply and oxygen needs to sustain the activity of billion neurons firing at once. The study also found that people who were in good physical shape had brains that appeared to be healthier than participants not in good physical shape.
Could you start an exercise program and improve your brain health? The results from this study are encouraging. They showed a noticeable improvement in brain health from people who started to exercise while they participated in the study.You can improveyour brain’s health. Just like the heart, we need to give our brains a workout.
What can you do starting today to improve your brain’s health? Start by planning on learning something new. Join a book club at your library, invite friends over to play board game you’ve never tried or dust off an old card game like canasta that you haven’t played in a long time. Try reading a challenging book that has been gathering dust on the shelf. Go to an arts store and buy some artists supplies. Even if you haven’t taken a drawing class, try sketching or using watercolors. Sign up to learn something you always wanted to do. Learn to play a musical instrument, take a cooking class that focuses on food from another count, join a hiking or biking group. All of these activities will stimulate brain cells and pathways.
A good workout regime should be paired with healthy eating habits. All that hard work is going to require some quality fuel. Any of the actives mentioned above are great for brain fitness, but without required nutrients, health benefits can be lost. Feeding your mind is not just an abstract statement. Eating the right foods can help combat the adverse effects of oxidation and damage of brain cells. There is no magic food to prevent aging. But we do know that nuts, berries (especially blueberries), and food rich in omega-3 fatty acids go a long way to keeping the brain healthy.
If you live right, eat right, exercise, have fun, and keep the channels of social interaction open, you’re on the right path to good brain health. Keep the hunger for learning going well into your later years. When you do your brain will reward you.