Shell Point’s LifeQuest wellness program recently featured guest speaker and local gerontologist Emily Reese. Emily presented an interactive program from the national Alzheimer’s Association and discussed healthy aging techniques using cognitive activities, physical fitness and exercise, diet and nutrition, and social engagement. “Healthy heart, healthy brain” was the main message at the LifeQuest quarterly event.
Researchers now know that during aerobic exercise, brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) is released and stimulates the growth of new neurons – keeping the more than 100 billion pathways active in our brain. “What’s good for the heart is good for the brain,” Emily shared, explaining that these two organs are connected. “Blood brings oxygen, which is like food for the brain – 25 percent of every heartbeat feeds the brain.”
Emily advocated three simple changes to keep the mind and body active.
- Enroll in an educational class. The process of learning and recalling details occurs during formal education programs, like Shell Point’s Academy of Lifelong Learning.
- Practice mental word discovery. Try creating as many words as possible from a small collection of letters, complete a crossword puzzle, or pair a physical activity with a mind-game (for example, taking a step to the right and saying the name of a vegetable, then stepping to the left and naming a fruit).
- Break up your routine. Sit in a new seat facing a different direction in the dining room, change to Sudoku if you regularly do crossword puzzles, or make a habit of switching to your less dominant hand for daily tasks.
“Do what you enjoy and stick with it; build as you go,” Emily advised. “Make a plan, get support from others, and just have fun.” These little changes in daily life will keep your body and mind active and engaged, promoting positive and healthy aging.