By Zig Ziglar
In an exciting article in U.S. News & World Report, Joannie M. Schrof shares some encouraging information with the Senior Citizens of America. She cites numerous studies on aging which I find very promising. She quotes from Harvard psychologist Douglas Powell’s book, Profiles in Cognitive Aging. He says that a quarter to a third of subjects in their eighties performed as well as younger counterparts. Even the lowest scorers suffered only modest declines.
Research indicates that exercise is the factor that seems most likely to benefit the brainpower of the healthy, sick, young and old alike. Moderate exercise, such as thirty minutes of walking a day, is very beneficial. Perhaps the best news is that even if you lose part of your mental capacity you might be able to get it back again. An old brain retains an astonishing ability to rejuvenate itself. Stanley Rapoport, Chief of the neuro science lab at the National Institute on Aging, compares the brains of younger and older people engaged in the same efforts with amazing results. He finds that older brains literally rewire themselves to compensate for losses. If one neuron isn’t up to the job, neighboring brain cells help pick up the slack.
One intriguing study by Harvard’s Ellen Langer and Rebecca Levy suggests that cultural norms may be self-fulfilling prophecies. In China, where age carries no connotation of stupor, the elderly perform much higher on tests than their American counterparts. In short, your attitude and expectations are determining factors in your capacity as you grow older. Another exciting plus is that older people consistently outshine younger people on all measures of wisdom, offering more thoughtful, sophisticated advice.
But the best news of all is that there are things you can do to enliven your brain, such as: 1) Be flexible. 2) Find peace. 3) Eat right. 4) Get lots of stimulation. 5) Stay in school. 6) Seek new horizons. 7) Engage the world. 8) Take a daily walk. 9) Finally, keep control. So take the active, positive approach and