I don’t want to start calling them senior moments. I’m only 45 years old. But man if I’m not having some serious brain fog days where I’m struggling for the right words that were just on the tip of my tongue and then poof! Gone!
“So I was talking to, ummm, just a minute. WTF is her name. Give me a second. It’ll come to me.”
I know I’m not alone.
Cognitive decline is a big concern for women over 40. Thankfully, there are things that we can do to help preserve our mental capacity and function.
Sleep and nutrition are paramount to brain health. Your brain rests and repairs at night, just like your other organs and systems. Eating good quality healthy fats will also support the health of your brain. Reducing stress plays a big role in retaining cognitive function, so meditation, yoga, journaling, breathwork, they all have a place in the equation as well.
But did you know that lifting weights, strength training, can not only maintain cognitive function but also improve your memory and help to keep it sharp well into your actual senior years?
In a research study of 21 older women ages 67 to 81, the results after a 24 week strength training program were incredible. Participants took part in a strength exercise program, Growing Stronger, that is safe for all ages. 11 participated in a three days per week program of strength training. The rest maintained their current lifestyles without any special intervention.
You have a hippocampus. Did you know that? The hippocampus is a part of your brain found in the lower folds of what is known as the temporal lobe. It’s functions involve learning and memory. In this study…results showed amazing things happened to the hippocampus.
Hippocampus volume was significantly increased in the group of strength trainers compared to the control group. In fact the control group saw a decrease in volume.
So what does this mean? It means that strength training can help to improve memory function. The hippocampus is part of the limbic brain system. This system is associated with the functions of feeling and reacting. The hippocampus (now I’m just loving saying the word!) helps us to process and retrieve two specific kinds of memory.
Declaritive memories– facts and events
Spatial Relationship Memories– paths and routes
It’s also where short term memories are turned into long term memories.
Listen, I want to be a hot 45, 55, 65 year old woman. I want my body to feel good AND look good.
But none of that means anything if I can’t recall beautiful memories or find my way home.
Exercise, nutrition, sleep, positive lifestyle practices all play a much greater role in our lives than the size of our jeans or the pounds we can lose. This feels especially important to share with women over 40, who often feel this weird sense of desperation as their body takes on an older version of their teenage self. The body that doesn’t feel like your own. I know it. I’m in it. Add in the mental stalling that often accompanies the physical changes in our bodies as we get older and it’s enough to have me in a full on temper tantrum. It’s been enough. I’ve had those foot stomping tantrums as I try to figure out this body and brain that all of a sudden feel very foreign to me.
When I come across these findings for food and fitness and the lifestyle practices that are so much deeper than the diet culture push for flat abs and a thigh gap, I want to do a dance of joy.
Listen, I want flat abs too, but I’d rather remember my best friends names.
If you want the same? Join the email list and I’ll be sharing what I discover that will help you too, to create practices that support your health and wellness as you get older.
Let’s create lives that feel good to live. You in?