Back in the early 1990s, little was known about the brain's functions. It was thought the brain would go through a natural decline as someone aged. Then neuroscientists began conducting imaging techniques to understand the brain's intricacies. Fast forward to the present and you find brain or cognitive fitness becoming a focal area for high-achieving leaders and working professionals 55 and older. People are becoming more aware of the need to take care of their brain, especially in later life.
I think brain fitness is a real challenge. At least that's what I hear from the busy executives and leaders I coach. Luckily, research in this area has come a long way. We know a lot more about how the brain functions, and how to keep it healthy and even strengthen it in the face of stress and crises.
Also, it turns out that some of what we previously thought about the brain isn't true. We've discovered, for example, that the brain continues to grow well into our later years through a process called "neuroplasticity." During this process, new neurons that help transfer information are produced. This makes it easier to learn.
But how exactly do you keep your brain healthy on and off the job?
Until recently, busy executives and leaders could find only a few guidelines for increasing brain fitness on and off the job. While there are thousands of books about the brain's functions, only a handful focus on how to harness your brain's power in a world that's increasingly complex.
Today, the concept of "brain fitness" can be applied in real time, to real people, in real organizations. Then, the question becomes what types of brain exercises or mental pushups can be done to stave off the loss of memory and analytic acuity that accompany stress and normal aging?
As more people remain in the labor force past age 65, either by choice or necessity, the following things can be done to boost brain power:
- Be physically active – use your body.
- Be cognitively active – use your mind.
- Follow the Mediterranean diet.
- Stop smoking.
- Learn to meditate to calm your mind.
With physical training, your body responds to demands by strengthening muscle groups. Similarly, the brain expands (or not) depending on the challenges you tackle. That's the good news!
The bad news is if you don't use your brain, you'll loose it. That is why you need to take measures to strengthen it. I will be writing more specifically about ways you can keep your brain healthy in future posts.
Does this idea of brain fitness for Boomers and older individuals resonate with you? I'd love to hear from you.
Until next time,