EXERCISE AND STRESS MANAGEMENT STRENGTHEN MEMORY
Updated: Jan 15
I am still doing well. Lyme’s Disease seems to be under control. Bob and I traveled to San Francisco to celebrate Christmas with our daughter Beth and two of our grandchildren. Beth cooked for us all the meals I talked about in my last blog. I was surprised that she had learned how important healthy fats are to a healthy diet that preserves memory rather than destroys it.
Now I am focusing on exercise and stress management. I have believed all my life in the health benefits of energetic sports. I have learned that exercise helps to maintain a good memory. It improves cognition, balance, strength, and mood. Even after athletic skills begin to lessen, it is still important not to become couch potatoes but to make the effort to walk, bicycle, swim, even dance. Enjoy yard work because that, too, increases your breathing and heart rate. If you live in an apartment, lift weights to maintain muscle strength. Use multiple movements and multiple muscles as much as possible as you dress or empty the dishwasher. Challenge your brain to coordinate movements. Something simple that can help your working memory.
It was easy for me to understand the need for rapid walking, strength training, and balance exercises, but it has taken me longer to realize how destructive chronic stress can be. My new doctors keep reminding me to become more aware of stress and negative feelings. When we feel upset about a person or a problem in our lives, we are hurting our bodies and minds. Rather than stewing about the problem all day or lying awake at night thinking about an unhappy circumstance, tossing and turning on our beds, we can decide to clear our minds and stop thinking about the problem. Simple deep breathing can initiate the process of stopping repetitive stress. There are many meditation techniques that can help to calm your mind. Find the right one for you. Prayer, talking it over with Jesus, works for me. Or I take a walk outside and enjoy birds landing on a lake. If you have a garden, turn over the soil and let it run through your fingers, imagining your problem flowing away with the soil.
The problem is still there, but it will not have a destructive effect on your body and mind. My doctors encourage me to practice whatever relaxation techniques work for me and assure me they will improve my physical and cognitive health. They say relaxing is not being lazy, it is essential to my health and yours.
Information is taken from Outsmart Your Brain, The Insider’s Guide to Life-Long Memory by Dr. Ginger Schechter, Allison McKeany, and Denise M. Kalos