Work It Like A Marine: Secrets To Keeping Your Brain Forever Young

marinesThere’s some intriguing new research directed at answering why some people remain mentally sharp and nimble well into old age (earning them the title of ‘superagers’) while others become feeble and fuzzy-minded far too early.

Is it genetics, diet and exercise, or some other mysterious factor at work?

Lisa Feldman Barrett, professor of psychology at Northeastern University, studied why some people stay young in mind and heart, and others decline more quickly.

In a recent New York Times article, she explained why the brains of ‘superagers’ differ from those of ordinary people. Much like a Marine, they undergo a much heartier daily workout that keeps them young, strong, and fit.

“Many labs have observed that these critical brain regions increase in activity when people perform difficult tasks, whether the effort is physical or mental. You can therefore help keep these regions thick and healthy through vigorous exercise and bouts of strenuous mental effort,” says Barrett.

Just playing brain games or struggling over sudoku puzzles is not enough to give the brain the exercise it truly needs, according to Barrett’s research. Just like a Marine, she says, you need to push it until it hurts.

Her father-in-law, for example, still swims every day and plays tournament bridge. Playing a musical instrument, striving to be a master gardener, or restoring your vintage Mustang probably counts, as well. (Binge-watching marathon re-runs of “Breaking Bad,” however, may fall short of the mark).

“All brain tissue gets thinner from disuse. If you don’t use it, you lose it,” says Barrett.

Her takeaway: If you want to become a ‘superager’ and stay mentally fit as long as possible, make a New Year’s resolution to take up a challenging activity – either physical or mental – and work it hard, just like a Marine would do.

About Mari Adam

Mari Adam, Certified Financial Planner™ and President of Adam Financial Associates Inc, has been helping individuals and families chart their financial futures for over twenty-five years. Have a question about your financial situation? Ask Mari!

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2 Responses to Work It Like A Marine: Secrets To Keeping Your Brain Forever Young

  1. Linda Wolonick January 4, 2017 at 10:57 am #

    (Binge-watching marathon re-runs of “Breaking Bad,” however, may fall short of the mark).

    I have one more episode and then I will have watched all 5 seasons! I think closing your eyes over the scary parts should count towards physical activity!

  2. Valerie January 4, 2017 at 11:40 am #

    Your article is pertinent as I am considering taking piano lessons this year. You may have helped convince me to do it.

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