How to grow old and keep your mind active – Health

A historic building can decay through the action of the times. Or go through a maintenance and revitalization process that will allow you to better deal with the inevitable aging. It is with this image, the neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta open your new book, sharp mind, launched in Brazil (Editora Sextante). The doctor has already won awards such as Peabody and Emmy for his performance on TV: He is the medical correspondent for the American news channel CNN.

The purpose of the book is to show that it is possible to maintain an active brain at any age: just constantly reinforcing its foundation. As? Throughout the work, he suggests some possible paths and dispels myths about aging.

It’s never too late

At some point, the brain can no longer learn new things? Nonsense, says Gupta. “The combination of memory with the ability to generate new neurons means we continue to change the brain’s information, learning capacity and power.”

Move yourself!

Gupta claims that exercise is “the only scientifically proven behavioral activity that has beneficial biological effects on the brain.” In practice, this means that performing exercises helps to preserve the functions of the brain. And what’s more, it can help prevent high blood pressure or diabetes, which increases the likelihood of problems like dementia.

against stress

Performing physical exercises also helps, the author says, to deal with stress. And that’s important for a chemical problem. When it identifies stressful situations, the body releases the hormone cortisol – and research has shown that high cortisol negatively affects memory and learning.

Crossword puzzle

The idea that doing crossword puzzles or similar activities keeps the brain young is unfortunately one of the myths about aging. “They train only part of the brain, usually the ability to find words,” Gupta says. Okay, by keeping the mind going, crossword puzzles can reduce the decline in thinking ability. But it’s not a recipe that works for everyone.

has a purpose

Keeping the mind active is important. This does not mean that you never retire or continue working to record your head. But it is necessary to “move the brain and train it to keep it healthy”. For Gupta, you need to find a purpose. Which one? He suggests an exercise: try to remember the last time you felt a sense of intense, strongly stimulated energy. The answer may give you clues.

The importance of sleep

A lot happens – and must happen – during sleep. The body rebuilds itself in a variety of ways that affect the entire functioning of the brain, heart, immune system and the entire metabolism. Sleep changes with age, but that does not mean it should be of poorer quality.

How do you prevent this from happening?

Gupta comes up with some suggestions. Try to sleep and wake up at the same time every time; preferably wake up at the first signs of sunlight; be careful what you drink and eat (coffee after a certain time, no way); be careful when taking sleeping pills; remove electronics from the bedroom; create a routine that daily reminds your body that it’s bedtime, and prepare for it.

know how to relax

Whenever possible, we all want to relax. But you have to learn to do it. And the main lesson is to find the time and space for that to happen. Even during a busy day at work, spending a few minutes away from the computer without checking emails or messages can help. And if the mind starts wandering, do not just let it go, go with it.

Stay connected … especially off-grid

A 2016 study showed that isolation increases the risk of heart disease by 29% and stroke by 32%. Loneliness accelerates cognitive decline in older adults. Here the proposal is twofold: try to be part of groups, connect with other people, and propose to perform challenging activities with them.

the force of touch

Being with other people and sharing a smile with them can be liberating, Gupta remembers. The same is touch: hand in hand, hug, a simple shrug. It works a little. But the author guarantees that it is not. Touching the other, he explains, is a way of connecting that evokes the desire of human ancestors to protect themselves. And to feel part of a group.

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