by Lynda Espada, Director of Health and Fitness
The span of our life is seventy years, or if we are strong, eighty; yet at best it is toil and sorrow, over in a moment, and then we are gone.
Health and Science Editor of The New York Times and author Barbara Strauch has a new book The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind. In it, she looks at the latest scientific research about the middle-aged brain. And if you are between the ages of 40 and 68, this means your brain. If you’ve ever joked but not really about your early onset of Alzheimer’s when you’ve walked purposefully into a room and then been totally mystified about what your original purpose was in going there in the first place, there is good news.
The latest science tells us that if we keep ourselves healthy, we not only can maintain our brain function, but can actually improve our brains from middle age and beyond. In fact, genetic quirks aside, we can live throughout our lives with pretty sharp brains. Not that you won’t pick up the phone and forget who you meant to call. But other brain attributes of the middle-aged and older brain are not only so much better than anybody ever thought but even better than in the younger brain. We are not losing brain cells, we get to keep them.
What are some of the things you can do to maximize your odds that you are a pristine ager with the brain cells and sharp memory to, forgive me, knock ‘em dead? Well, there’s nothing new under the sun. Eating right makes a difference not just to your body but to your mind. And you need to exercise not just for your body but for your mind. It turns out that your brain really is a muscle much like the heart in that working it makes it better and stronger. The best data is with exercise and across the board they find that if the brain needs anything, it is very much like the heart and it needs blood. The blood needs to be circulated. Your brain needs oxygen. You don’t need to run a marathon, just get your heart pumping and know that your brain, in its own special way, is pumping too.
Come in and talk to our Sport, Fitness and Aquatics staff about nutrition, exercise, wellness and fitness concerns and plans that will get you on the right track. And consider attending our upcoming June 16 program, How to be Happier and Healthier Until 120 , where Rabbi Jonathan Perlman will teach life lessons from the Jewish tradition about staying engaged, taking risks, forgiving, expressing gratitude, and other values that can grow as we grow older.
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