Use It or Lose It

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“Use it or lose it!”

You’ve heard this cliché practically all you life, right?  That’s because it is absolutely correct.  You could buy a brand new car, park it in a brand new garage, protect it from all the elements etc., but if you don’t crank it up regularly and go for a ride, it will fall apart.

The disintegration process is called “entropy,” which refers to the errors in a system that causes it to fall apart because the object is not being used properly, if at all.  The “thing” that falls apart for lack of use in this instance would be your body.  “Entropy” happens as we age unless we continue to use what God has given us, so to speak.

Exercise your muscles or they will disappear.  Move your joints or they will become arthritic, eat properly or suffer energy loss or stoke, use your brain or become senile, learn to relax or have a heart attack.  You get the message.

Let’s zero in on senility.  Studies have shown that some people in their 70s, 80s and above have high levels of Alzheimer’s disease in their brains, but retain normal cognition.  Why is that?  Have they simply not lived long enough for the disease to manifest itself?  Or have they used their brain efficiently to ward off the effects?

The later appears to be correct.  Lots of people in the twilight of their lives pass away with normal cognition.  They are as sharp mentally as they were when they were 50 years or so younger.  The obvious answer is:  They never quit exercising their brains.  They socialized, read, worked crossword puzzles, continued working and, yes, even learned how to rest their minds through meditation.

So, it is very important to not only to nourish our physical bodies, exercise them properly and rest them with at least 8 hours of sleep daily, the same sort of cycle applies to our brains.  Eat food low in saturated fats, keep hypertension and cholesterol in proper balance, learn how to meditate instead of sitting around sleeping throughout the day, read more and watch less television, interact with people, work at a vocation and/or avocation and remain productive.

Also note that, while it’s harmful to be overweight when you’re young, carrying the proper amount for your age is critical as you enter into your 70s, 80s, and 90s.  Being too thin can kill you too!

Here are some other interesting findings:

  • People who live longer drink two to three cups of coffee.
  • People who exercise live longer than those who don’t, even if it’s only 15 minutes of walking a day.
  • People who do something rather than sitting and watching TV live longer, as do those who continue to engage socially, go to church or other place of worship, remain active politically and read, write, play bridge or solve problems that require using their brains.

In other words, maintain a healthy lifestyle from “head to toe” in order to live a full, conscious life.  Strive to use every part of your body as you age.  It won’t be the same as when you were younger but that’s natural.  And this applies especially to your brain.

Lisa Burbage

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