Friday, January 17, 2014

Brain Power

I admit I worry about getting Alzheimer's. I ~ and more than 62 percent of Americans ~ worry about getting Alzheimer's.

Years ago I did what scientists recommended to exercise my brain; I worked crossword puzzles. Beginning with easy ones in the daily newspaper, I dutifully penciled in UMA (__ Thurman), ERMA (__ Bombeck), and OKRA (gumbo veggie) until I was confident enough to use ink. Then I moved on to harder puzzles in pencil until penning a puzzle did not result in a smeary mess. It still takes me all week to complete three Sunday Chicago Tribune puzzles, but after I get better at those in ink, I have my pencil and large eraser ready to attack the New York Times puzzle. Don't hold your breath. My NYT puzzle attempts have been dismal so far. If the daily paper's puzzles were mental jumping jacks, the NYT puzzle is a triple flip from a back handspring. The point is not how good I get; it's that I'm intentional about giving my brain bigger challenges. 

More research is coming out now that proposes that the best mental exercise is physical exercise. In today's article Physical Exercise: Good Medicine for the Brain, Leilani Doty, Ph.D., touts a regular (preferably 30 to 40 minutes five times a week) exercise routine as not only a way to healthier heart, bones, and digestion, but also to improved memory, thinking, and attention span. Aerobic exercise is a great stress reliever, too ~ never a bad thing.

  For more about the research and most effective types of exercise, read the whole article by clicking here, Good Medicine for the Brain. Doty emphasizes it's never too late to begin. So whether you don't have dementia or have some stage of it, tuck that crossword puzzle into the cushions of your easy chair, and lace up your sneakers.

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