Brain Power

Frances Kolarek-150 wideBy Frances Kolarek —

My skeptical eyebrow twitches uncontrollably when I hear about tricks that will keep your wits razor sharp, your brain ticking like a Rolex watch and also stave off dementia. But Brain Power, a new book suggested by the Mayo Clinic Health Letter, has me sold.

Take a look at this: “Exercise zaps harmful stress chemicals. It boosts problem-solving, planning and attention.” AND “It cuts risk of dementia in half.”

This is new stuff. A host of scientists are rallying around with the comment: “If we want to live a long time but also keep our memories, our basic selves, intact, keep moving.” So walk, or run, to your nearest gym and sign up for an exercise program.

Or get a dog that needs three to four long walks a day. “The benefits of caring for a pet are stronger than the known effects of other positive lifestyle factors …,” Brain Power tells us.

And this: Neuroscientists agree that learning something new is one of the best ways to strengthen your brain as you age. So stop dragging your feet and learn how to operate that mysterious electronic gadget your kids gave you last Christmas. I expect an email from you shortly.

The book also offers a challenge I am eager to accept: Learn to juggle! Full instructions are included. As soon as I can find three balls of the same size, you‘ll get a progress report.

Brain Power, the book I am citing, is by Michael J. Gelb and Kelly Howell, both with impressive credentials. It is described as “the latest brain research turned into practical strategies for maintaining and building your mind’s capacity at any age.” The authors dismiss the “senior moment” cliché with examples of forgetfulness in everyone—especially, children. “Is that a ‘junior moment?’” they ask.

Memorization ranks as “a marvelous tonic” for your powers of recall. Think how easy it is to remember the words to a song. Put Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in the picture and “Dancing Cheek to Cheek” comes to mind, unbidden. “Heaven, I’m in heaven ….” Now memorizing Ezra Pound might raise a sweat on your brow.

“It is sweet to let the mind unbend.” These words of Roman poet Horace are among highlighted quotations ranging from Greek philosophers to Woody Allen. Entertaining. Informative.

“Understanding how to rest and recharge will help you to achieve greater health of body and mind,” Brain Power says. Try spending a relaxing hour with a copy of the book. You’ll find it hard to put down.

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