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The Brain – How Can We Ensure Successful Aging?
3. Physical Exercise
There are countless articles which show physical exercise is good for many aspects of our health, including our brains. Physical exercise gets our blood pumping and reduces the risk of hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol – all of which are risk factors for dementia. Therefore, if we can reduce these risk factors for dementia, we can also reduce the likelihood of developing dementia itself.
4. Creative Expressio
A third category of activities is creative expression. These are things like dancing, painting, playing musical instruments, or making pottery. Creative arts are unique because they involve many parts of the brain paired with physical movement. Not only does a person need to think creatively they must also simultaneously translate these thoughts into brush strokes or dance steps. At the same time, art often evokes strong memories. For example, most people have songs that remind them of dating when they were younger, or paintings that remind them of a vacation with their family. One study found that older individuals who regularly engaged in artistic activities, such as painting have a 76% less chance of developing cognitive impairment. Individuals who participated in craft based creative expression, through things like knitting, woodworking and making pottery were 45% less likely to develop cognitive issues.
Each of these 4 categories of activities has been shown to have positive effects on aging within the human brain. I am not saying that we stop focusing on our physical aging. However, I am saying that we should be intentional about doing activities within these 4 categories, so that we can allow our brains to age successfully as well.