Health & Wellness

Personal Resilience Plan 2

As announced in our last article, we are devoting the entire 2024 year to helping readers build a Personal Resilience Plan.

Physical activity creates brain growth even in mature adults.

We devote this article to a review of prominent research findings in the neuroscience field. Every single person fortunate enough to pass the 65-year milestone worries about their mental acuity and, specifically, their memory function – with good reason. The National Institutes of Health report that almost half of adults over 65 report some kind of memory impairment.

Every mature adult wants to sustain their memory function and mental clarity for as long as they possibly can. We bring good news to this discussion.

  1. Brain plasticity – the ability of our brain to learn new things and adapt to various challenges – does not diminish with age. Each person reading this article has the capacity to maintain their learning ability. The catch here is that many senior adults don’t exercise the option. Sustaining our brain’s plasticity requires putting it to work – in the form of learning something new. Look into the offerings at Coursera and explore hundreds of topics that will challenge you to build new neural circuits in your brain.
  2. Memory – For years neuroscientists held the belief that human brains are born with the same number of neurons that they will have as mature adults. In fact, human brains prune unused neurons throughout our life – kind of like cleaning house – so that adults have fewer neurons than babies. Humans still pack something like 85 billion neurons into our skull and each neuron may have 1,000 connections to other neurons. Do the math. Pretty amazing.

    Recent research however has revealed that the hippocampus, a seahorse shaped component of our brain tucked away in the middle of our head, is capable of neurogenesis – the formation of new neurons. The hippocampus is the central switching station for memory. Bottom line: you can generate new neuron growth to support your memory function today by going out and taking a brisk walk.
    Our memory can also be fortified by mnemonic exercises as detailed in this article.  See #7 especially for your next trip to the grocery store. Make a list of things you need. Put the list in your pocket and go through the aisles relying on your recall. Before heading for the cashier, check your list to see if your forgot anything.

  3. Physical activity causes the brain to generate proteins, like BDNF, that John Ratey M.D. of Harvard Medical School calls Miracle Gro for the brain. Check out this terrific video featuring Dr. Ratey. 446 Get out and pump up some BDNF to bathe your brain in beneficial, invigorating chemicals.

The human brain is the most amazing creation known to man. Senior adults have a very important role to play in how well it functions in later decades. You have the capacity to keep your brain in good shape and sustain your mental acuity. Our brain defines who we are. Take excellent care of it.

Richard Houston, Ed.D., is an aging baby boomer who is ramping up his productivity rate in his mid-70’s. He swears that his brain has never been more productive. Check out his web sites at and Resilience-Advocate.

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