Dr. Barbara Huggins

The Magic of Puzzles

January 18, 2007

The Magic of Puzzles -  January 18, 2007If you've come to a point in your life where you think that new learning is impossible - think again, and again, and...again. New research is showing just how important mental exercise can be. Dr. Mom has more.

Are you one of the many Americans who 'used to have a great memory?' Memory loss is a major concern in the aging process. Recent research however, has shown short mental workouts that boost reasoning skills, memory and mental processing speed stave off mental decline in middle-aged and elderly people. The study suggests that the benefits of mental exercise can be seen as many as five years later.

Just as physical activity keeps your body strong, mental activity keeps your mind sharp and agile. Continuing to learn and challenge yourself means your brain continues to grow. An active brain produces new connections between nerve cells that allow cells to communicate with one another.

How can you challenge yourself?

Staying physically active also helps to slow mental decline. Exercise increases blood flow to all parts of your body, including your brain. Exercise also gives you more energy and helps you be more alert. Exercise daily for at least 30 minutes.

Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, many of which contain antioxidants (substances that protect and nourish brain cells). Some of these fruits and vegetables are oranges, berries, broccoli, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.

If you have concerns talk with your primary care physician or you may call The Center for Healthy Aging at The University of Texas Health Center at Tyler at (903) 877-3451.

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