What could be one of the best ways to keep your brain sharp? It ain’t crosswords…

What's the best way to keep your brain sharp?

When most of us think about keeping our brains flexible and powerful, most of us probably think of things like brainteasers...


Gimme that seed! GIF via DailyPicksandFlicks/YouTube.

...or jigsaw puzzles...


Behold! The most satisfying video on the internet. GIF via OskarPuzzle/YouTube.

...or crosswords.

Oh my God, they're doing it in pen. Hard. Core.

And brain challenges can help, although not every puzzle is created equal (some studies suggest that doing a bunch of crosswords might just make you better at crosswords, for example).

But maybe we need some of THIS added to the mix:

Don't bother him, he's exercising his brain.

Exercise won't just make you swole, a new study shows it also keeps your brain young.

As we get older, our brains tend to slow down a bit, but a study published in Neurology showed that exercise keeps our brains quick, sharp, and powerful.

The study followed about 900 older people over the course of many years. The researchers judged how much exercise the people were getting, then over the course of more than a decade, they judged their mental capabilities using memory and logic tests. They even used MRIs.

At the end, the study showed people who intensely exercised had brains that looked 10 years younger than their peers.

Those people were both quicker at figuring things out and had better memories. The researchers note that it wasn't just any exercise — the benefit came for the people who got regular moderate to intense exercise, like running or aerobics.

The researchers did caution that they can't draw a direct 1:1 relationship between exercise and brain aging, but exercise carries a lot of other benefits that might come around to helping our brains anyway. Exercise can help fight off hypertension (which can affect our brains) and decrease stress (which is a good thing all around). Some studies have even suggested exercise can make your brain bigger by volume!

Go for the gold!

Brain training.

So the next time you think about staying sharp, it might be time to put down the crossword puzzle and break out those running shoes.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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