The log cracks as it’s plopped on the glowing embers emitting a welcoming warmth. It’s that time of year and I’ve already curled up by the fire a few times already this fall, have you? While a crackling fire is totally enjoyable as is, let’s not just sit there zoning out to mindless TV, let’s do something!
A few research articles this week added fuel to my fire as they related to our #MemoryMakeover theme of execution for this month. One discussed how cognitive training enhanced thinking and brain connections. This lent even more evidence to the basis of all our programming at MemoryMinders and gives us all more reasons to stimulate our brains. The other showed how even a bit of activity can lead to prolonged life. Both studies fuel our mind wellness fire.memory wellness goals list we set in September, but we all can benefit from increased execution on our physical and mental fitness. I love simply cozying up by the fire, but these articles sparked my desire to not just sit and watch TV, but to do something while I warmed my toes.
Here are a few examples of how to get a mental workout while still enjoying the warmth of the fire this winter:
- Read differently. Most of us read something every day, but we can easily take our reading to the next level. I’m rereading a classic with my daughter for her English class and we’re discussing the symbolism and other literary nuances. It’s our own mini book club! Whether it’s a book club with friends, digging into a new magazine, genre, or reading aloud, different reading will give our brains a new workout!
- Play a (new) game. Board, electronic, trivia, visual, listening or card-any game is fun to do inside on a cold or dreary day. Engage your brain by trying a new game alone or even better with friends! Challenge yourself by picking something outside your comfort zone and feel your brain synapses fire!
- Sit and _________. Stretch your back and legs. Write a letter or Christmas card. Draw a picture. Fold the laundry. Sew, knit, crochet or learn how. Do a MemoryMinders Academy activity. Many things can be mentally active while sitting. Don’t just sit, do something mentally challenging to enhance your mind and memory.
Speaking of sitting, let’s remember that other article. It gave credence to what many of us know-checking things off our to-do lists can prove to be a workout-literally! Often, our daily activities of cooking, cleaning, laundry, walking to the mailbox or over to a neighbor’s actually count as exercise, especially as we age.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still aim for the recommended 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week, but this study demonstrated how even 30 minutes of light physical activity can still lower our mortality by 12%. Moderate aerobic activity like in an exercise class or engaging with additional effort lowered mortality by 39%!
An easy way to do this every day is to get up and do some physical activity six times a day for five minutes. This simple habit of frequent movement will check that 30 minutes of daily activity off our lists and keep our minds and bodies firing on all cylinders!
Hopefully, these tips and research items provide some fuel for your execution fire as they did for me. Your #MemoryMakeover homework this week is simple: Keep taking those steps toward your goals and next time you enjoy a fire, don’t just sit there- execute!
Sandra B. Chapman, Jeffrey S. Spence, Sina Aslan, Molly W. Keebler. Enhancing Innovation and Underlying Neural Mechanisms Via Cognitive Training in Healthy Older Adults. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 2017; 9 DOI: 10.3389/fnagi.2017.00314
Michael J. LaMonte, David M. Buchner, Eileen Rillamas-Sun, Chongzhi Di, Kelley R. Evenson, John Bellettiere, Cora E. Lewis, I-Min Lee, Lesly F. Tinker, Rebecca Seguin, Oleg Zaslovsky, Charles B. Eaton, Marcia L. Stefanick, Andrea Z. LaCroix. Accelerometer-Measured Physical Activity and Mortality in Women Aged 63 to 99. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/jgs.15201