Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Age-Proofing Your Brain - How Strength Training Can Help You Stay Youthful

I'm forever on the lookout for ways to make sure I do not lose my mind on my way to senior citizenship. There's nothing quite so painful as those individuals who have earned retirement status but do not know they can now enjoy it. They forgot and continue to forget their lives, relatives, and what they once had.

Dementia. Alzheimer's. Sad.

So when I read an AARP article called "Age-Proof Your Brain - 10 Easy Ways to Stay Sharp Forever," I enjoyed tip #2 - Pump Some Iron. I've been strength training for almost a year and have noticed the difference in muscle to fat composition and the ability to perform tasks I just could not do previously.

Specifically, the Pump Some Iron tip stated that "Older women who participated in a yearlong weight-training program at Vancouver did 13 percent better on tests of cognitive function than a group  of women who did balance and toning exercises."

Once you get past the fear of lifting weights with grunting and weight-dropping male club members, you do it at your own pace. More weight or more reps. And you do get help from the boys if you ask nicely. One trainer saw me doing a chest press incorrectly and showed me how to do it the right way. Makes a big difference if your form is correct.

And for the curious readers - here are the rest of the tips in the article to Age-Proof Your Brain. Stay away from the nursing home, maintain your independence, and live a healthy retirement! Follow these tips:

1. Get moving
Calling all couch potatoes - that means you! WAlk around the block, get a DVD to walk in your house, stay away from the TV, cell phone, and PC.

3. Seek new skills
Challenge yourself by teaching yourself something new. This activity will create new brain pathways. I picked up a crossword puzzle for the first time ever just a few days ago. I got about half of it on my own. It's a start.

4. Reduce stress
Yeah, stress ages your body and your brain. Reduce it as much as possible with stress management techniques. See

5. Eat like a Greek
The Mediterranean "diet" is heart and brain-friendly.

6. Spice it up
Certain spices (pepper, cinnamon, ginger) which are high in antioxidants build brainpower.

7.  Find your reason to be, your passion (your motivation to get up in the morning).

8. Socialize
Find a social activity you like or get a dog and walk him. You will socialize if you get a cute puppy!

9. Reduce your risks.
Reduce the risk of chronic diseases by living a healthy lifestyle. The presence of chronic diseases is associated with dementia.

10. Check vitamin deficiences
A common deficiency in older adults is vitamin B12 which can affect brain functioning.

Defy age now!

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