When you’re young, it’s hard to imagine ever being old. Sure, you see elderly people around you who are physically frail and mentally unsound. You know it’s possible. But you’re convinced it will never happen to you.
This mindset continues for decades, until suddenly you realize that all those people who told you to eat right and exercise were right. It’s never too late to adopt healthy habits – but it’s a lot harder later in life than it is in your 20s.
Don’t let that be you. Take care of yourself now, when you have the rest of your life ahead of you and few health problems. This goes for both physical health and mental health – which is why this Kwik Tip is to learn a new skill.
Since 1986, there has been a continuous study done on a group of nuns who are members of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. These nuns are remarkable because despite their advanced age, they remain mentally agile well into their 90s and even their centenarian years. One major reason for their mental agility? These nuns are lifelong learners, always studying new skills.
Other studies, too, have shown that learning a new skill later in life can help ward off dementia. Learning anything strengthens neural connections in the brain, but learning a challenging skill strengthens whole networks instead of singular connections. And it’s just like exercise. Starting young allows you to create and strengthen that fit mental base, making it harder to deteriorate as the years go by.
So this week, think of a new skill and take a step towards mastering it – whether that’s contacting a piano tutor or buying a basic cookbook. If you need ideas, there’s good list here. Don’t forget to continue learning other skills even once you’ve mastered that one. The more you learn, the fitter your brain will be.