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As you can see from her photos, Senior Supermodel Oleda Baker is aging magnificently. I interviewed Oleda last December. She is a treasure trove of information on everything this blog stands for, namely weight control, healthy living and healthy aging, so I asked her if she would share some of her ideas with us. She has written 10 books on beauty and health. Her latest, written at the age of 75, Breaking the Age Barrier – Great Looks and Health at Every Age – was released in November 2010 and is available from Amazon or from her website www.oleda.com where she also sells her own line of health and beauty aids.
You might think the most important deterrent to brain cell deterioration is engaging in mind-bending games or doing the daily crossword puzzle. Taxing the brain and learning new skills are excellent activities, but they usually don’t get your heart rate up and pump blood to your brain cells.
Perhaps the most striking brain research discovery of the last decade is that physical exercise can forestall mental decline. It may even restore memory. Animal studies have shown that aerobic exercise increases capillary development in the brain, increasing blood supply, which carries more oxygen to the brain.
It doesn’t have to be formal exercise at the gym. You can play tennis a couple times a week, ride a bike, or walk a mile each day. A combined program of aerobics and weight training will produce the best results.
Fit people have sharper brains; and people who are out of shape, but then get into shape, sharpen their brains along with their bodies.
It was once thought that brain cells do not regenerate as do other cells of the body, but more modern science learned that neurons do continue to form in the brain, even into old age.
Memory does begin a decline when we reach our 40’s, but the progression is not as steep as originally feared. Indeed, forgetfulness may be due less to brain cell loss than other influences, such as taking care of the kids, the job, paying the bills, doing chores, everyday living all competing for cognitive time.
To keep your brain young you need to give it lots of varied stimulation and challenges. Like a muscle, it needs to be exercised, to “strain the brain,” so to speak. Repeating the same mental functions over and over, such as Sudoku or crossword puzzles or watching television, doesn’t help slow cognitive deterioration. Mental stimulation is as important for your brain as physical exercise is for your body.
As so often happens with Oleda’s ideas, they coincide exactly with my own. The only difference is that Oleda has lived longer and more successfully than I have. To read further about the value of exercise to the brain, check out my page Important Facts About Your Brain and Exercise.