Ironically, I was working out in our garage when I stumbled upon a magazine that caught my eye. Scientific American produced a special collector’s edition, “Secrets of Staying Young: The Science of Healthy Aging.”

The articles in the magazine are quite powerful and useful, covering health topics such as Why We Age, How To Stay Smart And Strong, and Clues To Slow Aging, just to name a few.

Working in a senior living community, I’m reminded each day how extremely important our health is and what we should be doing to live a long and prosperous life. I would like to share some of the scientific content from these articles that directly impacts our body and mind as we continue to age. 

While we’ve come to understand intelligence is primarily a genetic inheritance, it is also affected by what we do physically. We have learned that staying physically and mentally active helps us stay sharp as we age. Seniors who participate in aerobic exercise outperform their peers who do not.

If we don’t work out, our muscles start shrinking. What most people don’t realize, however, is that our brain also stays in better shape when we exercise. Learning a new language, doing difficult crossword puzzles, or taking on other intellectually stimulating tasks will be a challenge, but are quite possible.

Researchers are finding physical exercise is critical to vigorous mental health, too.

Scientists tell us in these articles that “participating in activities that make you think, getting regular exercise, staying socially engaged and even having a positive attitude – have a meaningful influence on how effective you cognitive functioning will be in old age.”

And let’s forget about the saying “old dogs can’t learn new tricks,” because they can! Science has proven that seniors can generally learn new pursuits, but it happens more slowly than with younger people.

Even the sheer effort of learning something new will slow the decline in cognition that comes with advancing age.

What these scientists are telling us is that even though we are more sedentary as we age, just a few months of “doing something” physical can begin to affect our brain power in positive ways.

If you want to strengthen your brain, start working on your body too.

Joe Agee is the marketing and sales director for The Seabrook of Hilton Head.