• Barbells and Brains

    If, like Leonardo, you wish to develop a dazzling “working resumé” (see SSW’s 1/26/10 post) it behooves you to keep in top form – mentally and physically.

    This snippet, Exercise: In Women, Training for a Sharper Mind by Roni Caryn Rabin from the NY Times, heralds a new study from Canada which has demonstrated that “Older women who did an hour or two of strength [not just toning] training exercises each week had improved cognitive function a year later, scoring higher on tests of the brain processes responsible for planning and executing tasks.”

    Exciting news, but for those men and women not yet ready to heft the barbells, hope thrives in this fascinating and equally energizing article by Jane E. Brody, Healthy Aging, With Nary a Supplement.

    Brody notes, “The desire to achieve a healthy old age is laudable indeed, and will be even more so in the future. According to a projection of the century-long rise in life expectancy published in The Lancet in October, 2009, more than half the children born since 2000 in wealthy countries can expect to celebrate their 100th birthday. If so many of us are destined to become centenarians, it is all the more important to be able to enjoy those years unencumbered by chronic disease and disability. There is no virtue in simply living long; the goal should be to live long and well.”

    “Americans have yet to learn,” she continues, “what Hippocrates, the father of medicine, recognized in 400 B.C. ‘All parts of the body which have a function if used in moderation and exercised in labors in which each is accustomed, become thereby healthy, well developed and age more slowly; but if unused and left idle they become liable to disease, defective in growth and age quickly.’ ”

    She concludes, “It’s time to stop making excuses and make regular physical activity an integral part of your life, like eating, sleeping and brushing your teeth.”

    Soooo, put an extra dollop on your toothbrush, walk twice around your accustomed one-circle block, maybe begin to carry a baseball (Leonardo preferred a chisel) in each hand. Before you know it you, too, will be reaching for the barbells, nudging those neurons and enhancing your brain’s capacity.

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