How can you stay sharp as you age?

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November 1, 2023 by Patrice Hazan - Views: 57

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How can you stay sharp as you age?

Acccording to the AARP “Staying Sharp” is the number one concern of 91% of baby boomers.  The good news is, there are things you can do to keep yourself feeling bright and spry.  Your brain is like a muscle- the more you use it, the better is works! 

You may be happy to learn that experts say that as we age mild memory loss or forgetfulness is perfectly normal! When you are thinking, the information is still present in your brain, it just takes extra time to retrieve it. We may have lost some neuro-connections, so our brain is not working as quickly or efficiently. Thankfully, there are things we can do to keep our brain healthy and sharp. 


 Most people have heard that challenging the brain with mental tasks and activities, such as crossword puzzles or learning a new language is good for the brain. The key is keeping the brain challenged. If the activity is easy, you are probably not improving your brain health!  You have to feel like you are struggling a bit to get the right answer or solve the puzzle in order to make new and stronger connections between neurons. This is known as neuroplasticity, a new re-wiring of brain in response to challenges that stimulate and facilitate growth. 

Aerobic Exercise and the Brain

You may be surprised to know that one of the best things you can do for your brain is aerobic exercise! Research has demonstrated that aerobic exercise increases the blood flow throughout your body, including your brain.  This increase in blood flow increases oxygen to the brain, which nourishes the brain, reducing inflammation, stimulating the growth of new blood vessels and brain cells, as well as allowing the survival of old brain cells. 

In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. 

Mental and Physical Exercise for the Brain!

If you really want to improve brain health and thinking skills, combine physical and mental exercise! Physical exercise will increase oxygen to the brain, placing it in an optimal state to make new neuro-connections, so when you add cognitive challenges while exercising, the brain is in the best position to make new connections and brain cells.  

How would you do this? You perform simple cognitive tasks while performing aerobic exercises.  For example, while taking that brisk walk, start counting backward from 100 by 7, or recall the months of the year in backward order.  Another option is participating in a dance or low impact aerobic class.  The coordination of moves to the beat of the music can be an excellent challenge for your brain! Socializing with friends while exercising increases brain building response and makes the process more fun! 

So now you have one more reason to exercise! What is good for your body is good for your brain! 

Whatever exercise and motivators you choose, commit to establishing exercise as a habit, almost like taking a prescription medication. After all, they say that exercise is medicine, and that can go on the top of anyone’s list of reasons to work out.■  

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