Take A Walk

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

Growing older can either be a burden or a blessing. It can be a burden if we adopt the attitude that everything about it is bad and negative. It can be a blessing if we look for creative ways in which God can use us.

One of the down sides of growing old seems to be that we tend to forget. Everyone who is growing older experiences that. Actually some of us began forgetting long before we started getting older. One optimistic person said, “One good thing about getting older and forgetting is the fact that you get to meet new people every day.”

David extolled the virtue of a good memory, “I remember the days of old, years long ago. I will remember my songs in the night.” (Psalms 77:6)

New scientific studies are showing that there is a way to improve memory as we grow older. At about age 50 there is a key part of the brain which begins to waste away slowly. Scientists are showing that moderate aerobic activity can delay this process dramatically.

University of Illinois professor Arthur Kramer said, “It used to be thought that aging was a one-way street that was going the wrong direction.” He tells Science News that his recent study proves “that’s not the case.”

120 sedentary adults between the ages 55 and 80 were recruited for the study. Half of those recruited walked for 40 minutes, three times a week. The other half did stretching and weight exercises instead. After a year the scientists scanned each walkers’ brain and found that the hippocampus where memories are formed, had grown by an average of 2 percent. By contrast, the stretchers’ hippocampi had shrunk by 1.4 percent, as expected.

I understand that a lot more studies are going to be done in this area, but the initial indications are that a brisk jaunt several times a week can roll back the pace of age related memory loss “by about two years.”

The older we grow, the more important exercise becomes. It is not just for physical health, but also mental and spiritual health. I have always been a strong proponent of exercise as one of the best means to deal with stress.

I am going to practice this. If I see you and can’t remember your name, just give me time to walk for a few minutes and I am sure I will remember your name!!

Let me paraphrase a line from a song made popular by Nancy Sinatra – “these brains were made for walking!”

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