August 13, 2018
Below is a lesson from Harvard Health on why leading a mentally active life is just as important as physical fitness, as well as our key learning.
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Mental strain helps maintain a healthy brain
POSTED NOVEMBER 05, 2012, 12:29 PM , UPDATED OCTOBER 29, 2015, 8:37 PM
By Daniel Pendick
Former Executive Editor, Harvard Men’s Health Watch
When it comes to keeping healthy and fit, living a mentally active life is as important as regular physical exercise. Just as your muscles grow stronger with use, mental exercise keeps your mental skills and memory in tone.
Are certain kinds of “brain work” more effective than others? I put that question to Dr. Anne Fabiny, chief of geriatrics at Cambridge Health Alliance and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Any brain exercise is better than being a total mental couch potato. But the activities with the most impact are those that require you to work beyond what is easy and comfortable. Playing endless rounds of solitaire and watching the latest documentary marathon on the History Channel may not be enough. “If it’s too easy,” Dr. Fabiny says, “it’s not helping you.”
Four brain-health strategies
As I write in the November 2012 Harvard Men’s Health Watch, Dr. Fabiny recommends four complementary strategies for keeping your brain healthy.
Continue reading here.
- Living a mentally active life is as important as regular physical exercise. Just as your muscles grow stronger with use, mental exercise keeps your mental skills and memory in tone
- The activities with the most impact are those that require you to work beyond what is easy and comfortable
- Four brain-health strategies
- Be a lifelong learner: Continuing to learn new things builds and maintains brain cell connections, or cognitive reserve.
- Strain your brain: When it comes to cognitive reserve, mentally challenging tasks have the biggest impact. “Be open to new experiences that cause you to see the world and do things differently,” Dr. Fabiny says.
- Get uncomfortable: Getting out of your comfort zone from time to time challenges your mental skills.
- Be social: Social isolation, aging researchers have discovered, puts people at risk of losing some of the brain reserves they have built up over a lifetime.
- There is abundant evidence that physical activity that gets your pulse thumping helps the mind as well as the heart.
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