Sunday, November 16, 2008


We've been told for years now that our brains start degenerating early on in life and that we should make an effort to keep them active. Use it or lose it, as the saying goes.

Quite right too. There are lots of (quite expensive) commercial products that set out to improve cognitive function and memory with regular use. Many of these are listed today in The Times article on this subject. You could also play chess or read a good book.

I'm quite interested in this subject, especially since the demise of my father's brain through Alzheimer's. Apparently whether you exercise your brain or not makes no difference to your likelihood of contracting the disease, but maybe it could retard the onset.

I'm also aware of the problem of using or not my brain as my job is not in the least bit challenging. I therefore have to find ways of interesting myself in my daily life. Of course, having lively children is great for keeping the brain active. Combating subterfuges, negotiating your way around demands, and finding answers to complex issues is all good exercise. My boys are certainly doing their best to keep my brain well-trained. For which I thank them, naturally...

One of the expensive software products listed in the Times is called 'MindWeavers' ( You can try out a couple of the exercises online and the one I did was indeed quite a challenge. Would I pay £90 for it for one user? No, I wouldn't. I'd rather read a good book ta. Still, I'm not too over the hill yet. Give me another 15 years and I might start panicking enough to fork out the dosh. I may also have fewer (boy-like) demands on my resources to be able to afford said dosh...

The article gives snippets of advice on how to stay brain-ful. This is my favourite:
The best advice I ever heard came from a Spanish neurologist, Damaso Crespo. He said I should do 100 yards a day, not sprinting but walking. But I had to walk with a friend and talk all the time. It’s the walking, the talking and the friendship that feed the brain; the sprint just feeds dumb muscles.
I've already read that social interaction is terribly important for maintaining a healthy interest in life and keeping the old grey cells moving. This advice just brings it all together - the need for physical exercise as well as a nice chat, and the warm and fuzzy emotions that having a good friend produce.

So, really, it's not difficult or expensive to stay brain-fit. Keep talking, keep reading, keep walking. Yep, I can do that.

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