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Energize Your Mind

If you’re older than 40, you may have noticed that you don’t remember things as well as you did in the past. Just yesterday, I walked into a room and promptly forgot why I was there. Maybe you’re forgetting because you’re stressed out or overworked. I know I often having trouble keeping things straight when I’m feeling frazzled.

A little forgetfulness now and then usually isn’t something to be alarmed about, but it sure can be an inconvenience. And if you’re like me, you’re concerned about it getting worse. That’s why I try to keep my mind active as much as possible. Instead of turning on the television, I’ll sit and do a crossword puzzle. When I’m in for a long wait at the doctor’s office (or salon, or auto mechanic’s shop), I’ll pull out my e-reader and read a chapter or two of a good book. I believe these things help keep my brain in good shape, but a new study indicates that there’s something even better than flexing my brain’s “muscles.”

A study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (December 2012), researchers from the Center for Development of Advanced Medicine for Dementia in Japan found that people who were more active during the day were less likely to experience brain shrinkage in the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe plays a role in problem-solving, personality, judgment and memory.

So in addition to exercising my brain, it seems I should be exercising my body if I want to keep my wits about me. I do exercise regularly, but this study got me thinking about what more I can do. I can do better.

I came up with the following list of simple ways to add exercise to my normal day:

1. Always take the stairs. It’s so tempting to walk up that escalator or hop in the elevator, but that would just be a missed opportunity to get some blood pumping to your brain.

2. Park as far away as possible. Most of us are in the habit of seeking out the closest possible parking spot at work, at Costco or at the mall. When you get a close spot, it feels like you’ve won a prize, but really all you’ve won is the chance to get a little less exercise – which is not a good thing.

3. Make plans to be active. Start taking the dog for a walk at the same time every day and your four-legged friend will eventually hold you to your commitment. You can also plan to walk with a friend. Great conversation can help you look forward to your daily walks.

 

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