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firing on all cylinders, you’ll never perform at your best. That’s why regular aerobic exercise is so important. As Anthony Joshua, the heavyweight champion of the world, says, “Cardio is a nice way to start the morning … it’s good to get up, get the body active.”
tear and begin to break down. Balance exer- cises allow you to keep these systems healthy and well-functioning. Some types of exercise, like yoga and tai chi, help maintain your balance. They’re also incredibly easy to start at any point in your life because they don’t have a high barrier to entry. Even if you don’t have balance issues, you may want to consider trying them out. Alternatively, those already dealing with problems should consult a physical therapist, who will provide you with a specific set of ex- ercises designed to recover your lost balance. Many sources will tell you that one type of exercise reigns supreme. The problem with this thinking is that it inhibits all the ad- vantages you can gain from a multifaceted fitness plan. There’s no rule that states you can only pick one or two of the four essential types of exercise, so why limit yourself? Like a balanced diet, the best fitness system is the one that covers all the bases. BOTH/AND, NOT EITHER/OR
When you’re young, it’s easy to take flexibil- ity for granted. A middle schooler can run around all day without warming up and have no fear of straining a tendon or overworking a joint. That’s not the case for older adults, who need to stretch in order to stay limber. Regular stretching will increase your range of motion while reducing your chances of injury — a win-win. Begin by warming up your muscles with dynamic stretches like arm circles or walking in place. Once your blood is flowing, move to static stretches that require you to hold a position. Areas like the calves, hamstrings, shoulders, neck, and back are particularly important to stretch.
Where aerobic exercise targets the cardiovas- cular systems, strength training is all about building muscle mass. “Regular strength training will help you feel more confident and capable of daily tasks like carrying gro- ceries, gardening, and lifting heavy objects around the house. Strength training will also help you stand up from a chair, get up off the floor, or get upstairs,” says Wilson. You don’t need to lift massive amounts of weight to get the benefits of strength train- ing. Body weight exercises, like squats and pushups, are a great way to strength-train. Because muscle mass is actually built during rest periods, be sure to schedule recovery days each week.
Balance is the result of many systems — vi- sion, the vestibular system, leg muscles, body mechanics — working with one another. As we get older, these systems suffer wear and
Strength of Mind Tips to Keep Memory Sharp and Improve Cognitive Function
Irish poet Oscar Wilde once called memory “the diary that we all carry about with us.” Of course, in Wilde’s time, the average life expectancy was less than 50 years old. As modern medicine continues to enable people to live longer, these “diaries” tend to become muddled. Fortunately, there are ways to counteract the natural dulling of our memory that comes with time. PUZZLE YOURSELF Just like any other muscle, our brain needs a workout in order to stay strong. As Dr. Celeste Robb-Nicholson of Harvard Medical School writes, “Challenging your brain with mental exercise is believed to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells.” Activities like solving puzzles, learning a musical
instrument, or picking up a new hobby work wonders to keep your mind active and your memory sharp. These mental exercises are especially important after retirement, often to make up for the loss of stimulating challenges that work used to provide. GET PHYSICAL Taking care of our physical health has also been shown to help brain function. According to a study by Sydney University in Australia, aerobic exercise is particularly good at jogging our memory. The researchers note that “aerobic exercise acts by preventing the usual decrease in neurogenesis associated with aging, thus resulting in greater retention of neural matter — particularly in the hippocampus.” In short, exercises like
swimming and running keep the part of our brain responsible for memory from shrinking.
SPEND TIME WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY Humans are social creatures. Many studies have shown that being a part of a supportive social group can significantly benefit our physical and mental health. In fact, the American Journal of Public Health reports that people who have daily contact with friends and family cut their risk of dementia and mental impairment almost in half. Our mental diaries may be longer and fuller than they were in Wilde’s day, but if we fill those pages with hobbies, exercise, and close friends, our memories will remain sharp and vivid for the rest of our days.
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