My friend Charlotte is one of those highly organized people who look at potential problems and go after solutions. To optimize her life as she ages, she exercises all the parts of her body, including that very important organ, the brain. Besides being a continual learner, doer, shaker, and mover, she has some precise and focused brain exercises. For example, every day, she writes one sentence with her left hand, upside down. Yep. Swears a doctor told her to do it to keep her very formidable brain healthy and young.
You too can take action to improve your brain cells, and I’m not talking about gaining wisdom, though that’s good, too. Here are three things you can begin at any age to make your brain healthier.
1. Have a wide social circle, a live wide social circle. I’m not sure if Facebook friending qualifies, but playing Bunco, working at the soup kitchen, joining the Rotary Club, those things qualify. Anecdotal evidence shows that older people living isolated lonely lives can reduce signs of dementia by moving into living situations with a large social network.
2. Get out and do some physical exercise. Studies at the University of South Carolina show that exercise builds mitochondria in brain cells. This is a big deal because mitochondrial degeneration has been linked to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
3. Read fiction, any fiction. No less than the New York Times wrote a piece called “Your Brain on Fiction”. Fiction is good for you. Any fiction. Remember Lawrence Sanders’ Edward Delaney character? When I first met my husband, he was well into the “Deadly Sin” series, and he told me, the thing he liked best in the books was, get this, the sandwiches the character made. (Hey, whatever works to sell books!) The truth is, all that vivid description stimulates more parts of the brain than just those needed to conduct the physical act of reading. Olfactory areas, taste areas, motor areas, all are fired up by multi-layer everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sandwiches. Add to this the fact that, on top of the sensory stimulation, fiction immerses you into the thinking and feelings of other people and increases your social abilities…and we’re back to number one!
And fiction that immerses you into the thinking and feelings of other people? Sounds like Romance to me! And speaking of romance, I want to highly recommend two awesome books by debut authors, my friends Laura Drake and Anne Cleeland:
Don’t let the cover on Laura Drake’s The Sweet Spot fool you; this is an intense story of grief and heartbreak, love and redemption.
This is my very own copy of Anne Cleeland’s Tainted Angel, purchased today at Barnes & Noble. This is the first book in Anne’s romantic adventure series that takes place during the Napoleonic Wars.
Check them out, and get those brain cells hopping!