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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Exercising Mental Muscles During Retirement Makes a Difference

I just read another interesting article about mental fitness. Richard Roche, Ph.D., National University of Ireland, says, "The brain is like a muscle that should be exercized through the retirement years as a defense against dementia, cognitive lapses, and memory failure."

The article, "Rote Learning Improves Memory in Seniors"at Medical News Today is about a study that showed seniors could fight memory loss by practicing memorization. In the study intensive rote memory learning was followed by an equal amount of time to rest. The people in the study showed improved memory and verbal recall.

As people age forgetfulness and difficulty with learning new material often occurs. The study said 40% of the people over 60 have some type of memory difficulty. Loss of brain cells and changes in brain chemistry cause mild memory difficulties.

The people in the study spent 6 weeks using rote memory learning, memorizing a 500 word newspaper article or poem. This was followed by 6 weeks of rest.

Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) was used to make measurements of chemicals and cells in the brain.

After 6 weeks of learning followed by a 6 week rest all of the people in the study had improved their ability to repeat a short story and a list of words, and to recall events that occurred earlier that day or week.

I will add that today members of the boomer generation are often caregiving for parents or elders who have memory loss. Greater awareness of memory loss is causing a trend of people looking for ways of exercising memory. Boomers and seniors are attending classes, taking up new interests that require learning, and doing puzzles and brain teasers.

Joining clubs, going back to school, starting retirement businesses, and staying mentally active instead of passively watching television are some of the ways people are practicing mental fitness.

At I found a cognitive fitness program for brain health that has brain games and exercises to improve memory, attention, and processing speed. The program was designed by scientists in neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and bioinformatics. You can choose 30 sessions that take 10 to 15 minutes per day, or a varied choice of brain exercises.

Feedback is provided so you can track your progress. Time to start lifting those mental weights.

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