Most people are tuned in to the importance of keeping physically fit as they age. But how many think about exercising their minds?

It's just common sense that someone who gets out into the world, making social connections and new experiences, would stay more mentally sharp than a person who spent the whole day sitting on a couch watching TV.

The website Healthline notes that, just as physical activity increases the flow of oxygen and boosts endorphins, mental exercise can help keep your brain healthy.

"According to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, certain memory-training exercises can increase 'fluid intelligence,' the ability to reason and solve new problems," Healthline notes.

"According to the Alzheimer’s Association, research shows that keeping your brain active increases its vitality. Doing new things in new ways appears to help retain brain cells and connections. It may even produce new brain cells."

The site suggests that people try new foods, attempt different ways to accomplish routine tasks, travel to new places, even take a fresh path to work or the grocery store.

The North Country, with its clean air, impressive landscape and friendly population, is a great place to flex your mind as well as your body.

Museums across the region provide a low-cost opportunity to learn about nature and history. Most communities host a public library where you can check out books, music and movies. The region has colleges that hold performances and sporting events, and local theater groups put talented actors onstage for our entertainment.

If you want a more formal way of learning long after your official education years have ended, a great opportunity is offered each year. Four agencies - Clinton County Office for the Aging, the Senior Citizens Council of Clinton County, Joint Council for Economic Opportunity and the Chapel Hill Foundation - collaborate on Senior Scholar, where people can sign up to take mini courses on interesting subjects.

Entering its seventh year, Senior Scholar will begin Jan. 23, 2020, at three easy-to-reach Plattsburgh sites: Valcour Brewing Co. (the former Old Stone Barracks), Lake Forest Senior Living Center and Pine Harbor.

All the sessions take place mornings or afternoons, so no night driving is required, and are taught by respected area educators.

The 2020 topics represent a nice range of interest: "Witch Hysteria in Early Modern Europe” with Vincent Carey, SUNY Plattsburgh professor of history; “Say Bonjour! to Québec” with David Graham, adjunct professor of French, Clinton Community College; “Climate Change—Our Planet’s Biggest Challenge” with Raymond Johnson, Ph.D, founder/director of Institute of Climate Studies USA and Press-Republican columnist; and “The Biology of Aging” with Joel Parker, SUNY Plattsburgh associate professor of biological sciences.

The $145 tuition covers one morning program, the afternoon program on aging and all lunches, with a $20 discount available until Nov 30. Find out more by calling Rachel at 518-563-6180.

Lifelong learning bolsters our brain the same way eating right and exercising help the rest of our bodies. We are fortunate to have many ways to achieve those goals just outside our doors.


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