Have you ever met someone in their 80s or 90s who seemed really young for their age? This person is mentally sharp, physically active and knows exactly what’s going on…
It turns out there’s a term neurologists have come up with to describe this person – they’re a “superager”. I read a fascinating article on superagers in the New York Times.
The article shares the findings of researchers when they compared the brains of superagers with other people of similar age. They found that key emotional regions of the brains of superagers were indistinguishable from 25 year olds – amazing!
So how do you become a superager?
Human beings are always looking for a shortcut. Which is probably why many of us love the idea that crossword puzzles or one of those new online “brain games” will keep our brains young.
But here’s what the researchers discovered…
In their own words, “We’re still studying this question, but our best answer at the moment is: work hard at something.” Superagers push past the temporary unpleasantness of intense effort. Apparently, if you consistently avoid the discomfort of mental or physical effort this can be detrimental to the brain. But when you perform difficult tasks, whether it’s a physical or mental task, you keep the regions of your brain thick and healthy.
We’ve been sold the idea that we should slow down as we get older but intense effort at something is what will keep your brain young.
Your Optimism Challenge:
Are you feeling mentally and physically challenged? If not, what activity could you embrace to push yourself a bit? Could you learn to play a musical instrument, speak a foreign language, dance the salsa or master Tai Chai?
I’d love to hear how you challenge yourself. Share your feedback, questions or comments at healthyoptimism.com/contact.