How to Overcome Brain Ageing Patterns
It’s a well known axiom that ageing starts from the moment we’re born. As we progress through life from infant to child and through puberty to adulthood, our body, including the brain, goes through many perfectly normal changes. We grow taller, stronger, faster, and smarter as our brain fills with more information and we gain the experience that helps us navigate through life.
While physical changes will be noted as we pass through middle age into our senior years, we might not be so aware of the changes happening in our brain.
Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to adapt and respond to our environments by changing its structure and function. Our ability to learn how to play a musical instrument for example, relies on the brain’s ability to grow neurons into interconnected chains called neuro-nets. Neuro-nets are laid down through the repetitions of daily practice. This means that the brain actually changes shape as we learn.
Research has found that as we age our brain’s neuroplasticity seems to decrease. At first it was thought this was caused by age-related nerve cell death but further research has shown that people in their 70s are still quite capable of learning and developing new neuro-nets. In attention tests undertaken by older and younger groups of people, limited differences were noted between the two groups when performing two tasks simultaneously. Additionally, the test scores remained similar between the young and old for focused attention on tasks performed over a sustained period of time.
The good news is that, contrary to prior believe, brain cells can in fact regenerate. While pathological factors can effect changes in the structural form and chemical functioning of parts of the brain, leading to cognitive decline, there is plenty we can do to minimize the natural, non-pathological effects of ageing. By simply following nutritional and lifestyle changes, dramatic results can be seen.
These lifestyle choices include the following:
- Physical exercise
- Ongoing mental exercises such as crossword puzzles and reading
- Taking up new hobbies
- Learning to play a musical instrument or speak a new language. Language skills and music are especially affective in maintaining a healthy brain.
- Managing stress
- Ensuring a healthy, nutritious diet
- Keeping social and friendship networks active
It’s the first and last items on the list that joining The Fitness League will offer you! Our fitness classes are age and ability appropriate, and the support and friendship you will find among your class members will help to grow and sustain your friendship network. To top it all you’ll have loads of fun while exercising to music, giving both your body and your mind a good workout.
. . . Remember you can just look up some of our classes on Youtube choreographed by some of our Cape Town Teachers and keep you in touch with your Fitness League family.
(Original article researched, written and submitted by: Anne van Vliet)