Findings like these have led some experts to conclude that the brain at midlife — a stage increasingly defined as the years from 40 to 60 — is far more limber an organ than previously realized. It may even rival the young brain for qualities like temperament, comfort with ambiguity and the ability to interpret meanings.
That’s more support for our “with age comes wisdom” truism. It’s important to note, though, that the brain works a lot like a muscle. The more you use it, the healthier it becomes, say experts like Gene D. Cohen, MD, PhD, author of The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain (Basic Books, 2005), and Sandra Cusak, PhD, and Wendy Thompson, MA, the authors of Mental Fitness for Life (Bull Publishing, 2006). Just as working out helps you stay in top physical shape, mental-fitness routines boost your brain’s power, strength and stamina.
Cusak and Thompson developed their seven-step Mental Fitness for Life course based on current research on cognitive function in the aging brain and their own research with the senior residents of Century House, a 2,100-member recreation center for seniors on the Canadian west coast. No matter your age, whether 33 or 103, insist Cusak and Thompson, by challenging your brain in this way, you can support deft and dexterous brain functioning for years to come.
Next: 7 Ways to Boost Your Brain As You Age