Thursday, January 24, 2019

Element of "Newness" in Keeping One's Brain Active

I am going to grant myself an increase in my life expectancy of at least one percent for the physical benefits of driving from my cabin to town and back.  Last week, the stunning, fog-encased bushes and trees along Scenic Loop surely increased my heartrate and brought me to a hyper-alert state.  This might not be all malarkey.  The element of “newness” is a key to mental alertness and a factor in arresting aging.  Living where I live, newness is a constant.

Moreover, a study that used seasonal satellite images from random years to calculate a measure of greenery surrounding the homes of 108,630 women concluded that the participants with the greatest degree of green vegetation had a 13% lower overall mortality rate.  (34% lower for respiratory illnesses and 34% from cancer.)  Since moving to a cabin in the woods from a home on a third of an acre with a stream and trees, I feel a shift.  (Even with all the green around me in town.)  I’ll look up from my work or go for a walk and be delighted to see the trees, passing wildlife, or a remarkable shift in the weather.  
A foggy day.
The walks alone are good for me.  The air is likely fresher than in town, but I also vary my pace, stopping to examine things.  Bending over to see a detail like the leaves on water along the road sets me to wondering when the frogs will return this spring.  All the bending is a good stretch.

Last Sunday, my family joined me on a walk and we noticed an (estimated) million ladybugs basking in the sun along the road.  The five-year-old told us that the spots on the ladybugs’ backs corresponded to their age.  Thinking this was in error, we looked it up on the internet and learned all sorts of details about ladybugs.  New information... new brain connections storing new data.  Another element of newness.

So here is my point, living in the woods keeps me mentally sharper, physically more active, and living intensely.  If newness is an element in keeping mentally active, I have it covered.