Cognitive Decline

Keeping Our Brains Young

July 28, 2010 at 10:10 am , by

Oz Bain Brain blog size

If I only had a brain!

That’s Mehmet Oz, M.D., above, showing me how different a healthy brain looks and feels compared with a brain that is riddled with Alzheimer’s disease. It was an amazing lesson: the Alzheimer’s brain was stiff and withered while the healthy brain was plump and soft.

It wasn’t the first such lesson I’d had with Dr. Oz. I met him years ago, before he was a TV star and best-selling author of the You health books. He was just a rock-star heart surgeon then. It was a life-changing experience for me to stand on a stool in his OR and watch him perform open-heart surgery on a young woman (I mentioned that in a blog a while back). At other times with him I was lucky enough to compare a healthy artery with one stiff and coated with calcified plaque—a heart attack in the making. I also got to hold a liver and feel the rock-hard, enormous malignant tumor in it. That poor patient didn’t stand a chance.

These were the best kinds of lessons I could get outside of attending medical school. But holding that diseased brain (which took place at a recent small event in New York on how to keep our brains young) really motivated me. That’s a disease I don’t want to get, and I’m sure you don’t, either! The latest research shows that one way to help avoid Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline in general is aerobic exercise. It’s really one of the most important things we can do for ourselves.

I’ve been a little sedentary the past few weeks, since it’s been the hottest summer on record here in New York City. I’ve found myself making excuses for not exercising. But those brains reminded me that there’s no excuse not to get moving and work up a sweat. In fact, studies show that intense exercise can even make your brain grow. Join me in pledging to get moving, and let’s get smarter together!

Meanwhile, we have a great story in the magazine this month on how to keep your memory sharp. Read it here. And check out our editor-in-chief Sally Lee’s Today Show appearance with Hoda and Kathie Lee by clicking here. She shares some great tips on how to keep your brain young and strong. Don’t forget to try them!