Many of us have thought about staying young or living longer. How do we do this? Well….what about learning?

A recent article written, by Gabby Hyman states in a Yahoo article: “Education may be the long-sought-after fountain of youth. After decades of studies, researchers continue to find that those who keep their minds engaged in active education live longer and stave off the ravages of aging, such as memory loss and lethargy.”

Dr. Gary Small, Director of the UCLA Center on Aging, has found a research niche in what he calls “Mental Aerobics.” Using physical fitness training language, Small encourages everyone to “cross train” their minds to keep them in peak condition. Dr. Small’s popular anti-aging book, The Longevity Bible, proposes an eight-step game plan to keep your body supple and your mind in peak condition. Number one on the list: “Sharpen Your Mind. Mental aerobics cross train your brain to significantly improve memory skills and brain efficiency. If you fix your brain for longevity, your body will follow in kind.”

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in 2003 revealing that seniors over 75 years old who continued to read actively along with engaging in other physical and artistic activities had demonstrably lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Lifelong learning combined with exercises to stimulate the mind builds what Small calls a cognitive reserve. Small says, “It’s the use-it-or-lose-it theory. If you keep your brain cells active it improves their efficiency.”

Research being done by James Smith, a health economist at the RAND Corporation states “the most significant social factor is education…..according to Smith the data on longevity is quite clear.

Of course staying active, eating healthy and avoiding obvious risks such as smoking are positive steps towards a more fulfilling life.