Are there things you can do to stay young? The ageing process is something that makes many people worry. And while ageing is naturally going to happen as people get older, there are some methods that people are using to keep the ageing process at bay.
Last year, at 71, former BBC newsreader, Angela Rippon created the BBC series “How to Stay Young” with Dr Chris van Tulleken in an attempt to understand what things people can do to hold off (or even reverse) the ageing process. Here are some things that they found can work, and may be worth trying yourself or with an elderly loved one.
Music has a magical way of capturing the heart and mind. And it appears that learning an instrument could be healthier for you than we thought. You often see many elderly people who, while they struggle with memories of certain things, can still play their favourite instrument like they learnt it yesterday.
Learning an instrument works parts of the brain not routinely or regularly used. The same logic can be used for learning a second language. In doing so it acts as an “exercise” for the brain and which is helps in stopping brain shrinkage.
Ping-pong (or table tennis) often gets a lot of flack in the sporting world as a game that doesn’t require much physical strength. While ping-pong may not make you stronger or run faster, it can help you live longer.
A study was conducted at King’s College, London, where they tested two groups of people – one doing a walking programme and the other a table-tennis challenge. When both group had their brains scanned after 10 weeks, each showed some improvements. However, the table tennis players showed some remarkable results where the part of the brain that helps with complex thinking, the cortex, actually got bigger. This may be because table tennis requires focus and for players to develop good hand-to-eye co-ordination.
While ping-pong showed impressive results, any physical form of exercise will help you protect your brain from the ageing process.
It’s not a surprise that stress can shorten a person’s life span – so logically finding things that help you de-stress should help you live longer. And nothing can help you de-stress better than man’s best friend – a dog.
Many people have a pet dog, and some workplaces even allow people to bring their dog to work. Research has shown that having a dog in the room immediately lowers stress. A group of people were tested by doing some mental arithmetic tests, and every single person did better with a dog in the room with them.
Most people don’t enjoy studying, but maybe being well-educated could help you live longer. A decades-long study in Minnesota seems to say so. An experiment was conducted with 600 nuns in – nuns were used because their clean-living lifestyle makes research into ageing less complicated. What they wanted to see why some nuns develop dementia and some didn’t.
The nuns were asked to regularly keep a diary. And an interesting conclusion that researchers came to was that the nuns with more sophisticated writing styles, meaning they have more idea density and a better grasp of spelling and grammar, were three times less likely to develop dementia.
It is believed that having a high level of education somehow protects the brain against cognitive deterioration. By no means are we saying you should go back to school, but why not try reading more books? Learn more about a topic you find interesting – it could help you in the long term.
Could small electric shocks be helpful in staying young? The U.S Air Force seem to think so. One base is doing a futuristic research where they apply electrical charges to the brain. These charges are small, only one to two milliamps – but results show that it can increase brain power by up to a third. They are conducted in a closed and controlled environment by professionals, and should never be tried at home. If there is merit to such a therapy, this could mean big things for anti-ageing thinking if small electric shocks can increase brain power and memory.
Research shows that dancing is better for you than going to the gym. Dance is an incredibly comprehensive form of exercise. It requires the dancer to use their brain, muscles, tendons, our ligaments and nervous system. It helps people not only aerobically, but mentally. Dance helps you to gain them balance and flexibility.
And the beauty of dance is that you don’t need any equipment. You can choose to go to a class, or simply dance to a song on the radio, it’s all good for you. So it may be time to put down the weights and pick up your dancing shoes.