May 26, 2024

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Wes Verbeek on healthy aging

Wes Verbeek on healthy aging

If there’s one thing that keeps your body and mind young, health-aging journalist Wes Verbeek (1964) discovered, it’s keeping your life exciting. And we’re not talking about climbing Mount Everest or bungee jumping for an afternoon, but about doing things differently than you’re used to. “If you want to stay fit for a long time, find a little adventure.”

Going out late at night, sleeping on a fluffy camping rug, going to crowded festivals, moving around a lot, finishing all the parties and drinks, driving back and forth with the kids for playdates, changing jobs: I’m glad I did all of it. No need for that anymore. Getting older has its advantages. Where I used to have an appointment several days a week in the evenings, I now find that once a week is more than enough. I like to be home and sleep on time. Yes, call it old but I’m fine working on it. Just like the habits and rituals that you have developed over the years. I get up at the same time every day, do the same exercises, eat the same breakfast, and work at the same kitchen table every day. You probably recognize yourself in this and think: what’s wrong with that? Well, quite a lot.

The path of least resistance

We have an innate desire to discover ourselves and the world, to learn, to be curious, to challenge ourselves, but somewhere in our lives we stop exploring. We lose leadership a bit and take the path of least resistance. It is precisely the routine life that makes us deteriorate faster, age faster. Because the brain hardly gets stimulated anymore. The sneaky thing about these customs and rituals is that they slip by without you noticing. We do many things on autopilot.

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outside your comfort zone

Now it doesn’t have to be as hard as before, but doing things differently than you used to, getting out of your comfort zone, and going on little adventures is very important to staying healthy for a long time. Whether you’re eating a different breakfast or learning a new language, everything your brain has to do in order matters. We need to get away from those ingrained nerve pathways. As well-known neuropsychologist Eric Scherder always says: “By doing something different – even if it’s just choosing a different route than you normally would – new connections are made that improve the overall condition of the brain. This can improve cognitive skills such as learning and remembering “.

Little adventures

Small changes and adventures not only keep the mind fresh but also give new energy and more satisfaction. I realize it in myself. Every now and then my boyfriend and I spontaneously go to a theater show in the evening. I always have to switch gears because I really wanted to do some laundry around the house or something and go to bed early, but every time I go, I think: This is so much better than another evening at home on the couch. Even if the performance is not fun, it brings me something. I have stories that make me think. Sometimes we just need to break something. As a creature of habit, I find it hard to deviate from my daily rituals. Only if it is in a different place than the kitchen table….

Read more?

Curious about the rest of Wes’ story? You read it on Zin 06 2023. Now in the store. Or order it online here.

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