BRAIN. THE BRAIN has long perplexed our brains. We are constantly reminded via TV commercials that as we age our brain changes and that if we would just use __________ first discovered in jelly fish that we would be better off. Or that if we did this or that or the other thing… and the research and debates of today will most certainly NOT be settled tomorrow.

Blue line drawing of a brainFor now, hold this thought from Dr. Robert Butler who was founding director of the National Council on Aging, and then went on to head the geriatric medicine program at Mt. Sinai Hospital. “The belief that if you live long enough you will become senile is just wrong. Senility is a sign of disease, not a part of the normal aging process.”

There are three types of intelligence and Bonnie Prudden outlines these in her book Bonnie Prudden’s After Fifty Fitness Guide. The first is crystallized intelligence. It is a key mental capacity that continues to increase during the lives of healthy people. It denotes a person’s ability to use an accumulated body of general information to make judgments and solve problems.

TelomereThe increase in crystallized intelligence occurs despite the simultaneous decline in another form of mental capacity, fluid intelligence. This form involves seeing and using abstract relationships, such as playing chess. However, we can still learn what we want to learn but it takes a little longer.

The third aspect is called world knowledge. That is the information people acquire in both their formal education and day-to-day experience. The total score of that information increases with age.

Berkley Wellness, Saturday, April 20th, 2019 asks this question: “Why are some people in their 70s as healthy as the average 55-year-old, while some people in their 50s are more like 75-year-olds?” Not one size fits all as they say and it is no different when it comes to aging brains. We all do it differently.

The article goes on to say that one of the genetic materials being studied is telomeres, which are kind of like the plastic tips on the ends of shoelaces. They help protect DNA from damage as cells divide and replicate. Over time they shorten which is a sign of cellular aging.

Basket of strawberries“It’s estimated that at least half of the variability in telomere length is inherited; the rest is influenced by lifestyle and environmental factors, such as diet, physical activity (or lack thereof), obesity, smoking, and exposure to toxins and pollutants.”

The article then cites various studies and ends with this: “My bottom line: This is an exciting field of research, but at this point there are far more unknowns than knowns. So far, the findings reinforce commonsense advice about a healthy lifestyle—not smoking, exercising regularly, controlling stress, having a healthy diet, and so on.”

Hiker WavingLight Physical Activity Tied to Brain Volume by Judy George, senior staff writer for MedPage, April 19, 2019, cites the potential benefit on the brain may accrue at lower activity levels.

Woman walking“Incremental physical activity, even at a light intensity, was tied to larger brain volume, an analysis of middle-age adults in the Framingham Heart Study showed.

Each additional hour of light-intensity physical activity per day was associated with higher cerebral total brain volume, even among people not meeting national physical activity guidelines, reported Nicole Spartano, PhD, of the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues in JAMA Network Open.”

James Mortimer, PhD, of the University of South Florida School of Public Health, who was not involved with the study says: “Brain atrophy is a major correlate of dementing illnesses.” “Starting with more brain volume, therefore, may delay onset of these illnesses, including Alzheimer’s.”

So click either Daily Dozen Part I: Teaching Version or Daily Dozen Part II: Follow Along to join me in my Daily Dozen Warm-Up, and then grab your dog, friend, and berries and go for a walk! When you return, figure that your brain is bigger and your telomeres are longer and that your brain is sure to be thanking you.

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If you have questions or need help, email me at enid@bonnieprudden.com.

For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help. Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®.