Monday, January 21, 2008

Exercising Your Brain

All too often we just accept what we assume are certain aspects of aging, without questioning it, trying to change it or perhaps regain it.
I watched a PBS program on brain exercise and one little thing stuck with me, it was about how as we age, we never go up or down stairs without looking at each step as we go. Watch a child or young person run up and down the stairs, their eyes are on the prize, not the stairs. According to this show on PBS, we just need to practise what we used to do, go up and down some familiar small flight of stairs, looking up, instead of down. Sounded kind of frightening to me, since I was a confirmed stair watcher. But, willing to exercise my brain and regain something lost for no other reason other than "accepting it". I began going down the back porch steps without watching my steps. It was rather humorous to see at first. I looked much like a toddler. Holding on to the posts for dear life, half trying to see down without actually looking down. Strange as it seems, it got easier each day. Soon I was flying down the steps while looking out at the barns. But, that was just 5 steps and 5 steps I knew well, would it work on a huge flight of stairs ? We have a food store that has the restrooms upstairs, big flight of stairs. A perfect place for a test. Now every time I am in that store I make sure to use the restroom, just to use the stairs. At first it was a bit scary, the stairs are smaller than my foot, so you don't feel quite so "safe" but it got easier every single time and now I can walk down, not holding on to the rail, looking ahead. I regained something through practice, through brain exercise. Using balance.
It works the same for going up stairs too. And I discovered, I see more things too, looking up and there is a spring in my step, a bit of that elasticity of the brain must have travelled all the way down to my feet : ) The old saying, "use it or loose it" seems to apply.
Same thing for memorizing. I don't memorize as easily now as I did in my teens and 20's. It used to be so easy to memorize things for exams, now the idea of memorizing is almost frightening and I accepted that I just can't do it easily, until that I try to memorize rather than say, " I can't memorize as easily as I used to" and so I don't even try. Still saying things like, "someday I will know my license number by heart". That has now changed. I know it, I know the plate number of our new car, (not brand new, but new to us) Memorized it on the way home from picking it up. Took me 5 miles at 40 m.p.h. driving.... so ladies and gents, how long did it take me ? We seem to just accept things we don't have to. Just working a bit at things, keeps our minds fresh and in working order, unless there is a disease or something. Good health helps too, eating food packed with nutrition, which rules out most fast food.
I am still working on learning the Chinese language, its tough, but that's good. I try to speak a bit of the languages I know as often as possible. Emery and I keep up with modern technology, we can use cell phones, remote controls, the computer, ipods and such without making statements like, "oh you do that for me, I don't know how to operate these new things"
Life is for learning, learning should never stop....Along with the wonder of wisdom, there should always be the freedom that comes with knowledge.
Here are 10 things I learned last week, what is your list for last week ? Share 10 things you learned last week on your blog. Facts, like you would have learned in school or how to do something. Its fun !

1. memorized our new license plate number

2. learned about "Freeze Plugs" or more correctly called, Core plugs on an engine.

3. learned that when ranches in Texas, clear out the brush and return the land to grasses, water returns on its own to the land.

4. learned that the first sighting of an emperor penguin was written about just over 100 years ago

5. learned that the most common photographed section of the Great Wall of China is actually

a replica

6. I learned that Nettle actually works as appetite suppressant.

7. learned that some mouthwashes contain twice the amount of alcohol of wine

8. I learned that According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, during the 30-month period before toilet training, the average child uses more than 5,000 disposable diapers. In one year alone, 3.1 million tons of disposable diapers are dumped into U.S. landfills, resulting in close to 1.5 percent of the municipal solid waste. And instead of taking the average 15 years to decompose, disposable diapers can take up to 150 years. We have created landfills now called "Diaper mountains"

9. that an amazing amount of information on people can be found at

10. I learned about NÃ¥lebinding (Danish: literally "binding with a needle" or "needle-binding", also naalbinding or naalebinding) is a fabric creation technique predating both knitting and crochet. It is still used in Iran to make socks.
Stairs I climb for exercise at the local University


mikesgirl said...

All I can say is WOW Patty - really food for thought (literally). Azlheimer's is rampant in my family, so I've always been aware that I need to keep my brain sharp, but you've given me some new strategies and a boost in the arm. As ususal, you have inspired me. Thanks for keeping YOUR brain sharp, for the rest of us, as well as yourself!

Shan said...


Wonderful post!! I am now 46 and I know that I need to excercise my brain. I have returned to playing the piano. I am no pianist but it is amazing how much I had forgotten and how much, with practice, starts to return. Use it or lose it is a very good thing to keep in the forefront of your mind.
P.S. Thank you so much for your kind comments on my new blog. And yes, that is a rosary hanging in my foyer. I didn't know that you made them, maybe you could write a post about that sometime.

Your friend,

Shellie said...

You make an excellent point. The same thinking relates to the Islamic urging to continue learning from the cradle to the grave.

I followed the link on #9. Very scary how much info is available so easily.

Much To Catch Up....

In mid January, we saw the passing of my father and after nearly two years of caring for him, it was so hard to see him leave u...