In 1950, people could expect to live about eight years after retirement. In 2011, retirees can expect to live for 20 years. The difference is due to increased life expectancy and earlier retirement ages. No matter how old you are, there are things you can do NOW to ensure you enjoy a vibrant, healthy retirement with an active, curious mind.
The factors most closely linked with maintained mental function late in life include:
• Higher Education – This doesn’t mean you have to go back to school. What researchers think is that people who pursue a graduate degree are curious and that school teaches you how to learn.
• Aerobic exercise
• Hobbies – especially complex hobbies like playing bridge or chess
• Learning a new language
• Learning to play a musical instrument
Another tip - watch less TV – your brain goes into neutral and that’s not a good thing.
Also, don’t overlook exercise! Even a brisk daily walk can yield big returns.
The brain begins to lose nerve tissue beginning at age 30 (yikes!). Aerobic exercise tends to reinforce neural connections by increasing the number of dendrite connections between neurons, creating a denser network. A dense network is better able to process and store information. Exercise may even aid with the production of new neurons.
As if that wasn’t enough, aerobic exercise is strongly protective of brain functions. And, the effect is largest if you start in middle age.
And, it’s not just your brain that will benefit. Regular exercise leads to:
· Improved cardio health
· Reduction of depression
· Better cardiovascular function
· Better bone health
· Better body composition
Think of it as saving for the future – your future health!