5 Habits That Keep Your Brain Young

Yes, diet and exercise matter, but so do these other simple interventions you can start doing today.


We all know our chronological age. That’s as simple as counting the candles on your birthday cake. But do you know your biological age?

This second number measures not how many years you’ve seen, but how much those years have impacted the functioning of your body and brain. Scientists calculate it a number of ways, but whatever methodology they employ, they agree chronological and biological age don’t always line up.

Some 80-year-olds function like people decades younger. They ace their memory and cognitive tests, and scientists peering at their cells can even spot significant differences. Experts have dubbed these role models of healthy aging “superagers.” Just about all of us would love to one day become one.

How do you achieve that? A long and fascinating article in the latest issue of UCSF Magazine delves into the work of the University of California, San Francisco’s Memory and Aging Center to answer this question (hat tip to PsyBlog). Much of this research is still far too new to be of everyday use, but science has already determined a few simple interventions you can start using today to help keep your brain young.

1. Think positively about aging.

If you try to think of famous superagers, one name will almost certainly pop to mind–whip-smart, 85-year-old Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. How does she keep her brain working at such an incredible level? Part of the answer, experts say, is that she expects it to keep working well. Optimistic expectations about aging actually help us age happily and healthily.

“There are some suggestions that people who are more optimistic age better than people who aren’t,” Peter Kramer, director of the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, notes. Just believing that old age need not be a drag helps you ensure your brain will function at its best in your golden years.

2. Practice gratitude.

It’s great to know that optimism is essential for becoming a superager, but how do you become more optimistic if you weren’t born with a naturally sunny disposition? Science has a simple answer to this question: gratitude.

Neuroscience shows that when you consciously choose to see and give thanks for the positive in your life, it changes the wiring in your brain, making it easier to see the good in the world going forward. And the more optimistic you are, the slower your brain is likely to age, the latest science suggests.

3. Hang out with friends more.

We usually think of hanging out with friends as a pleasure, but to your body, this activity is more than just a pastime. It’s a powerful stress-busting medicine. Studies show that spending time with loved ones measurably reduces the effects of stress on your body, while loneliness can do as much damage as 15 cigarettes a day.

And stress, it turns out, plays a critical role in aging. “The greater the feelings of chronic stress, the greater the signs of aging in cells,” explains UCSF psychologist Elissa Epel. That means that if you can tamp down stress, you slow down aging. Staying socially connected is one of the most powerful ways to do that. Handily, it’s also super fun.

4. Meditate.

Optimism, gratitude, and staying socially connected are all proven ways to reduce stress and the damage it does to us. So is meditation. One study even showed that the brains of regular meditators appear seven years younger than their actual age. You only need minutes a day to see benefits (and no particular spiritual beliefs), and there is a ton of advice and support out there to help you get started (even if you’ve tried before and failed).

5. Maintain the basics of a healthy lifestyle.

And yes, finally, there is all the obvious stuff. If you spend your days on the couch munching Cheetos, your mind as well as your body is going to decline quicker than it would otherwise. So, while all the above will give you a better chance of becoming a superager, that’s only true if you give yourself a fighting chance by sticking with the basics of a healthy lifestyle like eating a well-rounded diet and regular exercise. Sorry, there are no shortcuts around these essentials.

This article was first published in inc

Related posts

29 Thoughts to “5 Habits That Keep Your Brain Young

  1. It is appropriate time to make some plans for the longer term and it’s time to be happy.
    I have read this post and if I could I desire to counsel you few
    interesting things or tips. Perhaps you could write next articles regarding this article.
    I wish to learn even more things about it!

  2. I am actually pleased to read this webpage posts which
    contains plenty of useful data, thanks for providing these kinds of statistics.

  3. I am constantly searching online for ideas that can assist me.

  4. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could add to
    my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates.
    I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you
    would have some experience with something like this.
    Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look
    forward to your new updates.

  5. Your style is really unique in comparison to other folks I’ve
    read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this page.

  6. Unquestionably consider that which you stated. Your favourite justification appeared to be on the internet the easiest factor to take
    into account of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed whilst people consider concerns that they plainly do not recognise about.
    You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people
    can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more.


  7. Thanks for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbor were just preparing to do a little research on this.
    We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more from this post.
    I’m very glad to see such excellent info being shared freely
    out there.

  8. Hi there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it’s really informative.

    I’m going to watch out for brussels. I will appreciate
    if you continue this in future. Lots of people will be benefited from your writing.

  9. Hey there! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website
    with us so I came to take a look. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m bookmarking
    and will be tweeting this to my followers!

    Fantastic blog and excellent design.

  10. I am sure this post has touched all the internet people,
    its really really good article on building up new webpage.

  11. Hi there to every body, it’s my first pay a quick visit of this webpage;
    this weblog consists of awesome and genuinely fine
    material for readers.

  12. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something which I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I’m
    looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  13. My relatives every time say that I am killing my time here at net,
    but I know I am getting knowledge all the time by reading such nice content.

  14. Some times its a pain in the ass to read what blog owners wrote but this website is very user friendly!

  15. Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging
    on websites I stumbleupon every day. It will always be interesting to read articles from other authors and use something from their sites.

  16. Thanks for the marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it,
    you could be a great author.I will be sure to bookmark your blog and will come back someday.

    I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great job, have
    a nice morning!

  17. Hey there! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are
    you using for this site? I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve had
    problems with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform.
    I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  18. Hello.This article was really remarkable, particularly because I was looking for thoughts on this topic last Sunday.

  19. I love reading an article that can make people think.
    Also, thank you for permitting me to comment!

  20. Hey! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but
    after reading through some of the post I
    realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking
    back often!

  21. hi!,I love your writing very a lot! percentage we communicate more approximately your article on AOL?
    I need a specialist in this area to solve my problem. May be that’s you!
    Having a look forward to look you.

  22. whoah this weblog is magnificent i love studying your articles.
    Keep up the great work! You realize, lots of persons are looking around for this information, you can help them greatly.

  23. Hello Dear, are you really visiting this web site regularly, if so after
    that you will definitely get pleasant knowledge.

  24. Loving the information on this internet site, you have done outstanding job on the articles.

  25. I’m impressed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both equally educative and engaging,
    and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head.

    The problem is something which not enough men and women are speaking
    intelligently about. Now i’m very happy I stumbled across this in my hunt for something regarding this.

  26. Hi! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone 4!
    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward
    to all your posts! Carry on the outstanding work!

  27. Whoa! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a totally different subject
    but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Wonderful choice
    of colors!

  28. I have been exploring for a bit for any high-quality
    articles or blog posts on this kind of house . Exploring in Yahoo
    I eventually stumbled upon this site. Studying this information So
    i’m glad to convey that I have a very good uncanny feeling I found out exactly what I needed.
    I most certainly will make certain to do not fail to remember this website and provides it a glance on a
    relentless basis.

  29. There’s certainly a great deal to know about this topic.

    I love all of the points you’ve made.

Leave a Comment