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Boomernet is dedicated to helping Baby Boomers age gracefully -- and have fun doing it!

According to the most recent research, the best way to prolong good health and mental fitness is to…drum roll please…who would have guessed it? Eat healthy and not only exercise your body; but also your exercise your brain! What you eat readily affects your brain’s ability to process information, and daily physical exercise not only helps your body maintain skeletal and muscle tone, but also provides more oxygen to all parts of the body, especially the brain. Exercising your brain, with fresh and stimulating material not only increases your mental agility, but also keeps your brain a healthy, functioning organ. [1]

One of Boomernet’s affiliate websites: PlayHarderStaySharper.com offers all manner of games and brain exercises to help you maintain mental agility. Mental exercise sounds like something much harder then it really is, common hobbies like comprehensive reading, crossword puzzles and soduko are all brain exercises. But now, there are even more fun and exciting games to stimulate your brain! More of these later, for now let us discuss how not only mental exercise but eating healthy and physical exercise are also major components of maintaining mental agility.

Eating healthy not only keeps your heart and body happy, it also helps your brain deteriorate at a slower rate. Foods that are particularly helpful to the brain and body are foods that are rich in antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids. Eating foods that are rich in antioxidants helps cleanse the brain of free radicals that corrode the neurons paths to one another, while Omega 3- fatty acids improve blood vessel functioning providing much needed nourishment to many parts of the body and brain. [2] Foods that are rich in antioxidants include leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and cauliflower. Other vegetables like beans, artichokes and russet potatoes are also rich in antioxidants. Other rich in antioxidant foods include fruits like strawberries, cranberries, blueberries and cherries. While nuts like pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts also provide hefty amounts of antioxidants. [3] Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, trout, other marine life such as algae and krill. (Beware of increased amounts of mercury and other metal based toxins in some fish.) Soy, tofu, nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, and flax seed are also good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. [4] The majority of doctors agree, the stance still remains at; eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and avoid large quantities of red meat and fatty over processed foods. Your heart, body and brain will thank you for it.

It has also been found that while exercise (physical/mental) and good nutrition are very important factors of daily life, it is also believed that proper hydration, adequate sleep, reduced stress, laughter, and companionship are also major components in what helps keep older adults (read; Us Boomers!) physically healthy and mentally agile.

It has been found that brain plasticity; the brain's ability to create new neural pathways and connections in response to new experiences, is heightened by new stimulating activities. [5] Meaning, not only does the brain want and need daily stimulation, that pesky brain wants and needs new and challenging daily stimulation. Stimulation that is constantly changing provides the best mental fitness, your brain has to "get out of its comfort zone" says Henry Mahncke, PhD. [6] Say you do crosswords everyday and you have been for the past twenty years, this alone is no longer providing your brain with the new or varied stimulation needed to get those pistons really pumping. People who engage in daily challenging tasks, not only within their work environments, but also during leisure time with hobbies like; reading, crossword puzzles, bridge, chess and travel, have been found to slow down their mental aging process significantly. [7] The processes involved with learning create positive physical changes in your brain by increasing the connections between nerve cells, or neurotransmitters. According to A2 Multimedia LLC website: PlayHarderStaySharper.com

One of the more popular so called "brain games" is called Big Brain Academy and was released by Nintendo. This game includes several different smaller games that stimulate various parts of the brain, including activities such as basic math, information retrieval speed, speed of comprehension and much more. Nintendo of America spokeswoman Amber McCollum likens Brain Age to crossword puzzles. "We're not claiming that it does anything more than keep the mind active while letting people have fun." [8] -– But what could be better I ask? Active mind and fun all rolled into one? Sounds good to me! Big Brain Academy is available on both the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii gaming systems.

Another recommendation for the Wii is the WiiFit which is a self proclaimed “combination of fitness and fun.” [9] Now, not only does the Nintendo Wii have physically interactive sports games, and challenging eye hand coordination games, but it also has this highly interactive fitness program. That includes not one, but multiple training modes like; yoga, aerobics, strength training and balance games (like skiing a tightrope walk game.) The WiiFit has a balance board peripheral that can immediately tell you whether you are doing well or badly within the desired activity. It seems to be a relatively cheap and easy alternative for those too self-conscious to join a yoga class or gym. [10] The only complaints we here at Boomernet have heard so far is the games reliance upon BMI and other not so accurate forms of identifying a healthy lifestyle. It does sound like a new and fun combination of gaming and physical activity that so far, only the Wii system can provide.

Other great and innovative eye-hand coordination games such Rock Band or Guitar Hero, which have you (and others) "playing" musical instruments, in an interactive computer generated Rock Band can be played on various systems including the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii. If the lure of playing in a video game generated rock band is not enough for you, maybe the knowledge of a possible all Beatles Guitar Hero game may peak your interest more then the classic rock options available now. I can say from personal experience, I never thought I would have so much fun playing a video game! But these new fangled interactive Guitar Hero and Rock Band games blew me away! ;)

Another great way to exercise your brain on a daily basis is to become a subscriber to the idea of being a "life long learner." Three great steps to becoming a life longer learner are:
1) Always have a book, read it in your spare moments. Even if you only get to read it while drinking your coffee in the morning, those few minutes will provide you with a little mental boost.
2) Keep a "To-Learn" List, keep a list of all the things you'd love to study or learn about some day.
3) Spend quality time with those who make you think. And remember, once you have decided to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your day to day life.
For more information on the Steps to Cultivate Lifelong Learning, check out this article.

Unfortunately the experts do warn that people should not consider brain exercise to be a magic cure to stop brain aging, nothing can stop the inevitable. While it might be possible to improve memory, learning, and cognitive functioning; excising your brain unfortunately cannot prevent the inevitable effects of aging. But keeping your body and your brain stimulated prolong the inevitable and make it more fun!

Remember: The old adage "Use It or Lose It" cannot be taken lightly! Researchers and doctors agree; good nutrition, reduced stress, laughter, and daily physical and mental exercise is what keeps us Boomers physically healthy and mentally agile. So find fun ways to exercise your body and brain everyday and do yourself a favor, put down that oh so delicious (but greasy!) French fry and eat something nutritious and delicious.

Take a look around our fellow A2 Multimedia LLC website: PlayHarderStaySharper.com, for games that catch your eye and motivate you to challenge your brain power today!

IMPORTANT "FINE PRINT": We are not qualified to dispense medical advice -- and would not even attempt to do so. Obviously, you will want to discuss any ideas we have mentioned here with your physicians or other health advisors, before attempting them. These are simply ideas for you to consider -- but it must be added that they ARE ideas that we or others have found to be successful. Some of these ideas might be useful for you, too.

Bibliography

  • [1] http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-fishoil.html

  • [3] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040617080908.htm

  • [4] http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/omega-3-000316.htm

  • [5] http://www.webmd.com/content/Article/129/117423.htm?pagenumber=2

  • [6] http://www.webmd.com/content/Article/129/117423.htm?pagenumber=4

  • [7] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/10/AR2007091001853_2.html

  • [8] http://www.webmd.com/content/Article/129/117423.htm?pagenumber=1

  • [9] http://www.nintendo.com/wiifit/launch/?ref=#/what_is_wii_fit/introduction

  • [10] http://www.gamespot.com/wii/sports/wiifit/review.html

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