The Flinchum File

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Sweet Satisfaction

It is with sweet satisfaction when you learn that something you always suspected is now justified by research.  I have never believed that either the body or the mind were machines that simply wear out over time.  I have suspected the aging process can be delayed by both physical exercise and mental exercise.  Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal details that research — Read it!

Both the body and the mind are adaptive, which means they try to change and adapt to the tasks asked of them.  We know countless examples of people whose body adapted to physical exercise and stayed in remarkable condition.  While it is harder to document, it is equally clear that some people maintain clear-thinking minds until the end of a long life.

What was interesting to me was that mental exercise must be as varied as physical exercise.  We already know it is not enough to do cardio exercise without some weight exercise and vice versa.  We’ve learned that yoga is surprisingly useful in delaying the aging process.

There is more to mental exercise than “use it or lose it.”  The research showed that doing one crossword puzzle per day is not mental exercise.  Mental exercise needs to be varied and new.  Engineers should study poetry, for example.  Social workers should study math.  “Homebodies” should study geography.  In other words, studying the same subject over and over again doesn’t delay the brain’s aging process as much as studying something different.  It is important to exercise your mind outside your normal interests.

Maybe, I should study cooking, which is totally and completely outside my normal interests?

Naw . . . not a chance!