WRPA top banner
Western Reserve Psychological Associates, Inc.Empowering change for over 40 years
> return to archived articles >

Archived Article

Use It or Lose It—How To Keep Your Memory Strong

Everyone has minor memory lapses. From time to time, we forget a name or misplace our eye glasses. However, as we grow older, these lapses in memory do increase. The reason why is simple: The brain experiences normal wear and tear just like the rest of the body. The good news is that the normal brain has a marvelous ability called "compensating regeneration". This means that brain cells in the neighborhood of impaired cells send out new growth to take up the slack. Recent research has found that we may be able to fight our forgetfulness by engaging in activities that stimulate the growth of these new connections and keep our brains young.

A study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that tested the impact of physical activity found that aerobic exercise improved cognitive ability in adults aged 60 to 75 years old who had been sedentary. Participants who walked three hours a week in as little as six months, increased their short-term memory, their capacity to focus on a task, and their potential for multi-tasking.

Other studies offer practical suggestions for keeping the mind strong. These include reading books, playing stimulating board games, varying your routine, eating a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants like Vitamin C and E, and maintaining emotional fitness. For example, spending time with family, friends, and even a pet can be helpful in decreasing stress and promoting a sense of well-being.

Catherine C. Cherpas, Ph.D.
Staff Psychologist

> return to archived articles >