may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but that does not mean that
human beings are unable to learn new skills throughout their lifespan.
The Science of Building New Nerve Connections
I was younger, I could never understand why employers tended to view people in
their middle years as unsuitable for learning a new job.
we know about Neuroscience, the field that studies the structure and function
of the nervous system. It was about 15 years ago that I started to come across
the research from this new discipline and have been fascinated with it ever
neural pathways grow throughout the lifespan thanks to both physical activity
and cognitive challenges.
Some of My Challenges
the age of 81 I sometimes become frustrated when a new version of my favourite
software comes out. It is indeed a challenge for me to keep up to date with the
necessary changes I need to negotiate in order to manage my own financial
yes, it is hard work to remain fit enough to play tennis with people less than
half my age. However, I will share with you some of my routines which assist me
in these endeavours.
is only with hindsight that I realise how an accident on the tennis court 30
years ago has indirectly resulted in my enhanced level of physical fitness
which is unusual for octogenarians!
running for a ball, which had some lethal backspin applied by my opponent, I
lunged and fell on my right knee breaking my anterior cruciate ligament. Being
in my early 50s at the time, the doctor was reluctant to offer me surgery.
post-surgical exercise was necessary for the operation to be successful, and
there was some doubt in the surgeon’s mind about my ability to pursue this challenging
that surgery nearly 30 years ago, I have continued to ride the stationary
bicycle at the local gym twice a week.
ritual not only ensures that I have free membership of the gym (offered by my
medical aid because of my consistent use of the facility) but my ability to run
around on the tennis court with women far younger than myself.
About 13 years ago, I met Dana Stenova of the Czech School of Memory Training and Brain Jogging. Amongst other things, she taught me how to remember the digits of pi up to 100 decimal places as well as the 42 U.S. Presidents.
followed up this early training with researching various online skills as well
as MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses). And,
in order to ensure I exercise my attention span, I have been practicing Mindsparke for the past 10 years.
intention is to perform a daily practice of 10 minutes. While this ambitious
schedule is not always fulfilled, I do perform this task on a regular basis
ensuring my nerve paths for concentration and attention are regularly exercised!
lovely exercises are offered on a daily basis by the New York Times and other sources.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Some time ago, the merits of mindfulness and meditation started to appear regularly in the local press. When I heard how the esteemed monk Matthieu Ricard had meditated on compassion whilst being scanned by an MRI machine, I was motivated to study Buddhism and practice mindfulness on a daily basis.
who had thousands of hours of meditation under his belt, allowed himself to be
studied in one of the earliest scientific endeavours to quantify the effects of
meditation on the working of the brain. His compassion was so profound that the
needle recording his activity ran out of space on the paper!
now, the first thing I do when I wake in the morning is 20 minutes of meditation.
That is followed by a 10-minute walk with my dogs in the village where I live.
Croquet as a Game for Seniors
I was fortunate to discover the game of Croquet about four years ago, and now this pastime has proved to be a wonderful outlet for my energy and passion for the outdoors.
only does this sport get you out in the open and onto a beautiful green lawn: it
offers gentle physical exercise. In addition, it ensures you learn some mental
strategy to enhance your cognitive skills and gives players an opportunity to
socialise at the same time.
you would like to further look into the many ways to enhance your physical and
cognitive well-being. I do believe that my disciplined lifestyle has allowed me
to maintain a level of fitness which would not have been possible without the
effort I make to maintain a health enhancing routine. Most certainly, you can
do it too.
What is your fitness level? What do you do to maintain and enhance
it? How do you work on your mental fitness? Which games/exercises are your
favorite? Please share with our community!