Aging Successfully: Healthy activities for the whole person

  • Wednesday, January 23, 2019 1:30am
  • Opinion

A friend who was a psychiatrist told the story of a convent in the Midwest where the nuns lived into their 90s with zero dementia and with few physical illnesses. Their secret was to eat healthy, to engage in moderate physical exercise and to exercise their minds.

Hearing this story increased my determination to learn how the body and mind work. We all understand the importance of diet, exercise and drinking enough water for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

In this column I want to write about three additional activities which can increase our quality of life even more: mental exercise, more oxygen and ample sleep.

Mental exercise

Like the muscles in our bodies, the more we use our brains the stronger and more efficient they become.

Mental exercise can be fun. Brain teasers, word puzzles and strategy-based board games keep the mind active. Learning a new hobby or skill, and memorization also exercise the brain. Collecting trivia could be considered mild mental exercise.

The third Tuesday of each month Shipley Center has a Jeopardy game starting at 3 p.m. This is an excellent opportunity to engage in healthy mental activity while having fun and making new friends. A healthy social life is also important for a person’s overall well-being.

More oxygen

Correct breathing is something most of us are unaware of. However deep breathing exercises are easy to do, and are critical for optimum health.

Oxygen assists in the release of endorphins, those hormones which helps us feel better. Oxygen causes the body’s toxins to oxidized, converting those toxins to carbon dioxide and the carbon dioxide is then released during exhaling. These toxins include triglycerides, the most common fat cells in the body. Research indicates up to 80% of body fat leaves the body while exhaling.

The lungs and heart work together giving the body oxygen and blood to maintain a healthy life. Therefore the more oxygen we inhale through deep breathing exercises the healthier we can become.

Here is a piece of trivia to ponder – liquid oxygen is pale blue in color.

Ample sleep

Experts continue to study the importance of sleep and its impact on our daily lives. Chronic lack of sleep lowers the immune system, making one more vulnerable to illnesses. Sleep deprivation may be a precursor to mental illness and dementia.

Sleep gives the body a chance to slow down and for the brain to re-organizes itself. Also when we sleep the brain goes through a process called consolidation. In this process the brain analyzes our experiences and memories of the day and moves the important ones into the long-term memory bank. Several experts believe dreaming removes toxins from the brain.

As a person ages he or she seems to want less sleep, however the facts are the older a person is the more crucial sleep becomes.

As we begin 2019 I encourage you to include these three activities in your daily life, making it a healthier and more energetic year. For additional information:

Research the above items on the internet. The act of researching can exercise the brain. The Sequim Library (360- 683-1161) is a good place to find information.

Talk with your primary care provider about your individual situation.

Call Shipley Center (360-683-6806) and inquire about their various activities including that Jeopardy game. Remember, Shipley Center is to open to persons of all ages.

We at the Sequim Gazette welcome reader input. Feel free to email us at information@crystallinn.com.

Crystal Linn is a multi-published author and an award winning poet. Since moving to northeast Olympic Peninsula in 2015 she has been actively involved in creating new opportunities for local authors. She looks forward to connecting with even more writers, and readers living in this area. When not writing, or teaching workshops, Crystal enjoys reading a good mystery, hiking, and sailing with friends and family.

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