Aging Successfully: Keeping healthy

After a long summer, and promise of a cold winter, I thought it would be fun to re-do one of my first columns on ideas to keep healthy. Enjoy …

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 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.

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 also 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 percent of body fat leaves the body while exhaling during deep breathing exercises.

The lungs and heart work together giving the body oxygen and blood to maintain a healthy life. Therefore the more oxygen we inhale by breathing deeper 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 reorganize 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 fall rapidly approaches I encourage you to include these three activities in your daily life, making for a healthier and more energetic winter.

For additional information, research the above items on the internet. The act of researching can exercise the brain.

Check with your local librarian as the library is a good place to find information Talk with your primary care provider about your individual situation.

Be sure and read November’s column, as I will be announcing a new contest.

Email us at as I personally reply to each email.

Crystal Linn is a multi-published author and an award winning poet. When not writing, or teaching workshops, Crystal enjoys reading a good mystery, hiking, and sailing with friends and family.