How are you all doing today? I have to admit, I’m really, really tired of all this rain. I’m visualizing pushing it out to the west coast to help drown the fires out there…
After a year and a half of staying inside due to COVID, it’s difficult to accept this dreary weather. I think we deserve a bit of sunshine and outdoor activities. But Mother Nature has other plans I guess. I’ll continue to meditate, teach my Zoom classes, and put on my best smile.
Speaking of smiling, did you know that July is anti-boredom month?!
I chose this one for today, because I LOVE to find ways to make new pathways in my brain. When we are bored, we’re totally walking around on autopilot. Nothing new for our brain there…
One of my trademark past times, however, is making up new lyrics to a song and singing them. My voice is rarely on key these days, and sometimes singing off key makes people smile without even hearing the words. Or, when someone does something silly, I change lyrics to an old song and sing that.
A few days ago. the old Temptations song “I’ve Got Sunshine, on a Cloudy Day” popped into my head. I’m sure it was raining at the time, and I was attempting to put a smile on my face. Soon the line “I’ve got soooooo much honey, the bees envy me” came in and I changed it to “I’ve got soooooo much money, Jeff Bezos envies me.” OK, that one made me laugh out loud.
And sometimes a family member will do or say something that makes everyone laugh, and I’ll pop out “Oh, what a silly man – you are” to the tune of “Oh, what a lucky man he was” by Emerson Lake and Palmer.
It’s easy and fun and helps keep my brain healthy.
At this stage of life, keeping our brains healthy is on top of the to do list, and there are many fun ways to keep making new pathways in our brains.
In past posts I’ve talked about making new pathways by piggybacking something new, with something you do every day anyway, because it helps us to remember to do it. Things like balancing on one leg while brushing our teeth, or singing a song while putting the dishes in the dishwasher, or closing your eyes while washing your hair in the shower.
Add the making up of new lyrics to your list of fun ways to keep those those neurons firing. Give it a try and let me know how much fun you had!
I’ve also talked about how good exercise is for our brains – I talked a lot about walking or hiking during COVID when,perhaps, our usual exercise class or gym workout was unavailable. This week the New York Times and other newspapers shared information from another study of brain neuroplasticity which showed that brisk walking for 40 minutes, three times a week, increases the white matter in our brains, cool! This was a good study because it included 250 older men and women who were in good health, but sedentary. How many people do you know our age in that same category? Probably quite a few, maybe even yourself.
They tested these volunteers’ current aerobic fitness and cognitive skills and also measured the health and function of their white matter, using a sophisticated form of M.R.I. brain scan. Then, they broke them into three groups. One group worked on stretching and balancing, another group learned dancing, and the third walked briskly. Each group worked three times a week. After six months, they tested the volunteers again and the new scans showed nerve fibers in certain portions of the brains looked larger, and any tissue lesions had shrunk. YES! These results were most prevalent among the walkers, who also performed better on memory tests. The dancers, in general, did not, however, it seems the dancers spent quite a bit of time standing there watching the teacher explain new moves, so perhaps that’s not a reliable test of dancing in general. The volunteers who did stretch and balance, showed very little change in their brains.
So, let’s get a gang together and go walking or hiking!
As you will see in this week’s good news story, Dementia cases have declined in the US and Europe by 13% every decade since 1988! That’s good news. We’re learning more and more all the time about our brains and how to keep them healthy. Let’s keep working at it.
Many of us have watched our parents or older relatives totallylose themselves and waste away from Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases, and we don’t want that for ourselves. So, take the first step and try one of the above activities.
Best of Health,