Life long learning seems to be another example of use-it-or-lose-it, especially when combined with exercise. We have known for a while the benefits of exercise on the brain, but the real benefit is when combined with learning.
Brain researcher Aga Burzynska studied Olga Kotelko, who began track and field in her late seventies. Olga lived to into her mid-nineties and cognitively remained ultra sharp to her death. A combination of our physical activity and continually challenging our learning keeps our minds sharp. So is exercise good for our brains as we age?
The answer seems to be yes, though the explanation is more complex than the standard “exercise is good.” Kotelko’s daily activity on its own was no doubt incredibly healthy for her mind and body. But the resilience of her brain late in life may have also stemmed from the fact that she never stopped challenging herself to learn, no matter how old she got.
Take away: We should be more concerned about encouraging regular physical activity and life-long learning as habits in our students, not losing site of nurturing this combination with our bloated curriculums and excessive homework.