Use it and lose it for brain health

Tutor Helping Mature Man In Computer Class

Image: HighwayStarz/Bigstock.com

Keeping your brain active and, if overweight, losing weight, will help your brain function better.

In a report on various findings, Lindsay Cook shows what some of the research is saying.

Using your brain helps keep it alive

A study of 13,000 people involved a six-week computer ‘brain training’ program. This training was designed much like simple computer games testing visual responses. These responses included such things as matching shapes and mental arithmetic.

Six months later, the over-50s still showed improvement in verbal learning and reasoning skills. Those over 60 became better at such things as handling finances or remembering to take their medication.

The interesting thing is that the better they got at the game, the less evidence there was of improvement. And that stands to reason because practise wouldn’t stretch the mind as much.

Learning a new language has also been found to test the brain’s skill and it also ‘makes the brain more prepared to take on other challenging tasks’.

Magali Perquin, who was part of this study, puts it this way: ‘It appears speaking more than two languages has a protective effect on memory in seniors who practice foreign languages over their lifetime or at the time of the study.’

The brain has to work hard to learn a new way of understanding language. That’s the advantage.

Losing weight can help your brain

Keeping trim is essential for good mental health. That was the findings of a brain mapping exercise. This research found that obese people had, on average, 8% less brain tissue than people of ideal weight. Overweight people had 4% less brain tissue.

This is what lead researcher Paul Thompson calls ‘severe brain degeneration’.

He adds, ‘The brains of obese people looked 16 years older than the brains of those who were lean, and in overweight people, they looked eight years older.’

Use it (your brain) and lose it (excess weight) are two ways to help your brain. That may not be easy, but it is doable.

Bruce Manners is the author of Retirement Ready? and Refusing to Retire, and founder of RetireNotes.com

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Category: Brain Health, Physical Health

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