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Friday, May 27, 2011

Our Brains Need Exercise Too!

In our Certified Senior Advisor® (CSA) course work, we learned certain types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, are not a normal part of aging. Even though I’m aware of this fact, I still think about my own personal risks of developing cognitive challenges in the years to come.

In the last few months, I’ve been reading more and more about the many things people can do to increase a person’s brain health to help decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. A good diet and physical exercise are at the top of the list, of course, but what I found interesting was the idea of “brain fitness” as an important part of successful and healthful aging. It seems our brains need exercise too!

Krisha McCoy, MS, in her article entitled, *Brain Fitness: Continue Learning for Longevity said “Researchers believe that brain fitness improves mental functioning and decreases dementia risk because mental activity stimulates your brain cells and increases their ability to communicate with each other. Plus, this mental stimulation is thought to strengthen the connections within your brain, enhancing your brain’s ability to cope with dementia-related changes that may occur with age.”

I was encouraged to know I can keep my brain sharp by pursuing new interests and trying new things. This concept was mentioned in another article, *Learning New Skills Ensure A Healthy Brain As We Age, and according to Marie Pasinski, M.D., a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospitals Health Care Centers, “Learning a new skill is one of the best brain workouts there is.” This is because the act of “learning” seems to zoom in on the very “area of the brain responsible for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia – the areas of the brain that age the fastest.”

So, I guess I’m on the right track because since March of this year, I’ve not only enhanced my physical activities and exercise, I’ve also taken up a new hobby – rock climbing! It gets me outdoors, requires me to do a lot of hiking and challenges my brain (and my fear of heights!) in a whole new way!!

*Brain Fitness: Continue Learning for Longevity, by Krisha McCoy, MS; Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH -


*Learning New Skills Ensure A Healthy Brain As We Age, Submitted by Kathleen Blanchard, RN

Christie Munson, CSA, lives and works in Phoenix, AZ and is the Communications Manager for a retirement community and a Professional Organizer, specializing in senior services. She can be contacted via email at