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If you’re over 40, you may have noticed that you don’t remember things as well as you used to. You might walk into a room and forget why, or you might be hazy about past events or the time of tomorrow's dentist appointment.
A little forgetfulness now and then isn’t something to be alarmed about. Lots of times it happens because you're stressed or overworked. I know I have trouble keeping things straight when I’m frazzled.
But forgetfulness can sure be inconvenient. And if you’re like me, you worry about it worsening. That’s why I try to keep my mind active. Instead of turning on the television, I’ll do a crossword puzzle. When I’m in for a long wait at the doctor’s office (or salon or auto mechanic’s shop), I’ll pull out my e-reader and read a chapter or two of a good book. I believe these things keep my brain in good shape. But a new study indicates that there’s something even better than flexing my brain’s "muscle."
In a study in the December issue of the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, researchers from the Center for Development of Advanced Medicine for Dementia in Japan found that people who were more physically active during the day were less likely to experience brain shrinkage in their frontal lobe. The frontal lobe plays a role in problem solving, personality, judgment and memory.
So now it seems if I want to keep my wits about me, I should exercise my body as well as my brain. While I do exercise regularly, this study got me thinking about what I can do to add extra physical activity into my day. Here are some of the simple strategies I've made a part of my everyday life.
1. Always take the stairs. It’s tempting to use that escalator or hop in the elevator. However, that would be a missed opportunity to get some blood pumping to the brain.
2. Park as far away as possible. Most of us are in the habit of finding the closest possible parking spot at work, the grocery store or the mall. When you get a prime spot, you feel as though you've won the lottery, but really all you’ve won is the chance to get a little less exercise — which is not a good thing.
3. Plan to be active. Take the dog for a walk at the same time every day and your four-legged friend will eventually hold you to your commitment. You can also schedule regular walks with friends. The opportunity to have a great conversation with a pal may be just the motivation you need to stick to a routine.
Healthy Bites appears on MyHealthNewsDaily on Wednesdays. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!