October 20, 2010

Minding our Minds


by Linda Anderson Krech

Aging is real. Let’s start there. Our skin and our joints drive the point home, lest we forget that we will not live forever. These reminders, though unpleasant and even painful at times, can help us to live fully with our aging, changing bodies, while we still have the chance.

But our minds age as well. What do we know about keeping our minds as nimble and trustworthy as possible? Active engagement with the world!! Research clearly shows that engagement of all sorts – vocational, social, and physical – is good for our minds. In fact, multi cultural studies have discovered a strong correlation between mental decline and early retirement. Remaining involved in work life requires so many kinds of challenges, stimulation, and interaction. Though it’s not clear which components of work are most helpful, it does appear to provide a package that can hold cognitive decline at bay.

And then there's simple . . .

Here’s an article about this subject that appeared recently in the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/12/science/12retire.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

And then there’s simple physical exercise, which provides a significant protective factor against memory problems, and also a treatment for the characteristic forgetfulness of Alzheimer’s. Zaldy S. Tan, MD, researcher at the MIT AgeLab and author of Age-Proof your Mind, encourages everyone to become proactive in this arena. While researchers are still trying to identify which variables of exercise create the strongest mental benefit, Tan confirms that “many brain scientists believe that physical activities that demand both physical and mental effort stand the best chance of benefiting both mind and body.”

So let’s keep ourselves moving and engaged with life. Learn a new dance. Join a new project. Get those brain cells and muscle fibers going. It’s clear that we were designed to lead full and active lives. Typing, snacking, and remote-controlling do not qualify!

Posted on October 20, 2010 1:37 PM

I think you might enjoy the book, The Art of Aging, by Richard and Alice Matzkin

Posted by: elizabeth on October 20, 2010 5:09 PM
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