Saturday, December 4, 2010

How to Stay Sharp in Your Old Days?

Want to stay mentally sharp well into old age? A new study has some advice for you: Exercise at least once a week, don’t smoke, and get a good education.

The research, published in Neurology, examined the characteristics of people who don’t lose cognitive function in their 70s and 80s. Although most research has concentrated on the many seniors who do lose cognitive ability, this study flip-flopped the typical approach and examined the traits of older people who don’t lose any mental sharpness.

Among its many benefits, exercise improves blood flow to the brain. This three-pound organ consumes about 20 percent of the oxygen and glucose you take in, and when poor circulation hampers their delivery, memory is obviously affected. Physical activity also helps control blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight. Hypertension is the number-one cause of "mini-strokes" that can lead to severe cognitive dysfunction. Diabetes before age 65 doubles the risk of Alzheimer's disease. And abdominal obesity during midlife triples the risk of dementia at age 70!

Remain mentally active. Mental exercises can stimulate blood flow to the brain and help retain more functions. To give yourself a brain workout, engage in activities associated with both sides of the brain. Use language, numbers and reasoning, which are left brain activities, and music, art, or the imagination, all right brain functions to stay sharp in normal day-to-day activities.

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