More On Boosting Your Brain

A recent article by Julie Deardorff in The Chicago Tribune quotes Sam Wang, a neuroscientist, as saying, “If I had to pick between fitness training and brain training, I’d go with fitness,” because fitness exercises show a greater effect than computer-brain exercises. However, Wang noted that “fitness training only lasts as long as the benefit to your cardiovascular system.” Computer-brain exercise “might last longer.”


I’m left wondering what this is all about. Is it really an artifact of boomers reaching a certain age and, like Peter Pan (brought to boomers in the 1953 Disney movie), refusing to grow up? Have people in general always searched for eternal youth? Or was it only the adventurers and dreamers such as Ponce de Leon and an assortment of alchemists? Perhaps it’s only the advent of instant “news” that makes this such a hot topic. But it IS everywhere and not just in brain boosting exercises.


The list of “stay young” products and procedures runs the gamut from surgical body sculpting to anti-wrinkle creams and body sculpting exercises. Gone are the days when “dyeing” hair or wearing a wig was part of a mid-life crisis. Now younger and younger people are not only seeking to turn back the clock, they are seeking some sort of physical ideal that seems to be garnered more from fantasy and the media than from real life.


Don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe in keeping both the mind and the body at its peak performance for as long as possible. I also believe in reconstructive surgery for major physical defects. But come on, ladies and gents! Do you really need a model’s derriere or a body builder’s abs? Do you really need (or want) to cut back 30% on your food intake in order to improve your memory?


Yes, play computer-brain games (unless your money would be better spent on Sudoku and word-find magazines). Exercise for cardio-vascular health. Eat moderately and wisely. Stay as healthy and as fit in mind and body as you can for along as you can. But you are more than your mind and your body. You are also wisdom and spirit. These can not be enhanced with a scalpel or a drug or an obsession with things physical.


And – remember – no one really gets out of here alive.


Mary Lou Bernardo, PhD, MSN


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