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Keeping your Brain Young: April 15, 2012

At 85 years old, Darrell Holland makes time for a daily brain workout. It’s usually a word game.

“The crossword puzzle and then there’s one where they give you certain words and you fill in the letters there and then it spells out something.”

He is also an avid walker.

“At the mall three days a week and then the other three days so Monday, Wednesday and Friday I work out here,” says Holland.

Darrell is on the right track according to doctors.

“Exercise has been universally beneficial when people exercise their body they increase brain factors,” says Dr. Michael Raab, a geriatrician with Lee Memorial Health System.

Medical conditions including heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer and high blood pressure are improved with exercise. It can also strengthen memory and may lessen the early effects of dementia.

“When you couple that with exercising your brain, doing Sudoku puzzles, card games, dominos, jigsaw puzzles, they’ve shown that speed and judgment, reasoning skills are things that you can get better at,” says Dr. Raab.

Even a walk in the park is beneficial. Exercise doesn’t need to be high impact or too mentally taxing. The point is to do it and do it regularly.

“Exercise keeps your brain healthier longer so even under the onslaught of various disease you are able to push them off and keep yourself healthier. That’s what makes the 60 the new 40 or 80 the new 60,” says Dr. Raab.

In the autumn of his life, it keeps a spring in Darrell’s step.

“I’ve been doing it for, oh goodness, 20 years or more I guess.”