As the semester and first year of medical school draw to a close, appropriately, we discuss the subject of aging.
Like a phenomenal French cheese or a well conditioned antique, aging carries a subtle tone of refinement. Unfortunately, with that comes the breakdown of tissues and a host of systemic problems. Despite being relatively young in years, it's nice to be growing older in relation to my education. I can certainly feel the tissue breakdown as my waistline and muscles tend to have a little more "give" than before. As for the systemic problems, neurologically I may have more stored away, but my brain has never been more ready for a break.
As depressing as the subject can be at times with all the diseases and disabilities that come about, there is still something to be learned. One fascinating discussion we had related to memory loss. When we learn something for the first time neural connections are made or activated allowing a short term memory to become long term. The circuitry is very susceptible to damage from a lack of oxygen or corticosteroids, which accompany increased levels of stress. That's when the light turned on above my head, "no wonder why I can't remember anything, too much stress and not enough fresh air." Well I am happy to announce, we only have one more week of educational stress and then a summer break to get the much needed fresh air.
"Use it or lose it." Eating right, regular exercise, and intellectual stimulation are exceptional ways to keep your body, mind, and spirit fit as it grows older. There are many problems that could be avoided if we simply worked hard to keep fit. Along the way we will incur our bout of troubles, but if we play an active role in our health today, tomorrow will be that much better. For more information on this topic visit WebMD's Healthy Aging Guide.
Sunday, May 17, 2009