Queen Elizabeth II: The royal’s secret to good health – ‘If I rest I rust’

Queen won't strip Prince Andrew of military titles says expert

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At 95 years of age it is remarkable that the Queen is able to still keep on top of work. Even with the sad loss of her husband on April 9 2021 she returned to duty after a short mourning period. With the Queen only five years off of reaching 100 a novel published recently aims to try and pinpoint what exactly it is that keeps the Queen in her prime.

Bryan Kozlowski, a British culturalist has released the book Long Live the Queen. The book explores elements of the Queen’s daily lifestyle including what she eats, her work schedule, leisure time and how she balances familial and professional relationships. By doing so he identifies the secrets to the monarch’s good health.

Surprisingly, one of the main ways Kozlowski reveals the Queen stays healthy is through “mental habits.” It is through having a good mental attitude that also influences her physical health too.

As Kozlowski states, each day the Queen receives the large red box full of paperwork – from Parliamentary reports to intelligence documents. In addition she keeps on top of the latest news and political activities, reading the newspapers each morning over breakfast. This allows her to keep her brain active, something that all those getting older should be doing.

Of course there is no denying that her majesty has a realm of people behind her, supporting her in this work and signing paperwork on her behalf. But it is the consistency of doing this each day that is key.

Annette Medina-Walpole, M.D., president of the American Geriatrics Society said: “ Keeping your brain active, through work or educational projects, is essential at every stage of life.

“If we don’t use it, you lose it,” she continues. “One of my patients once told me this, and it’s my favorite quote, ‘If I rest, I rust.’ I think that sums it up nicely.”

In fact, brain health goes beyond just how well you can remember certain things.

The National Institute on Aging says that brain function covers several areas. This includes the following:
Cognitive health — how well you think, learn, and remember.
Motor function — how well you make and control movements, including balance.
Emotional function — how well you interpret and respond to emotions.
Tactile function — how well you feel and respond to sensations of touch — including pressure, pain, and temperature.

Experts believe that by doing meaningful activities it protects the brain by establishing “cognitive reserve.” Age UK defines this as the idea that people develop a reserve of thinking abilities throughout their lifetime, which protects them against ageing and disease.

Evidence suggests that in order to increase reserves individuals have to be exposed to experiences and activities. This is most effective the more people experience things throughout their entire lifetime.

However, Professor Yaakov Stern of Columbia University states that “it is never too early or too late to start.” He says that the more activities, the better. As the effect is cumulative, the more activities you can do to stimulate new connections will aid you in the ageing process.

This means that a slower rate of cognitive decline reduces the risk of individuals developing diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Some studies have suggested a reduced risk of 35-40 percent for those who have good cognitive reserve.

In one of the biggest studies, participants had to either learn digital photography or quilting. Results suggested that the people within these “productive-engagement” groups performed better in memory tasks.

With more research still to do, it is clear that there are benefits from taking up new skills later in life and also keeping engaged with other people.

The Queen meets new people daily and by attending different social events keeps active. Therefore, she is the perfect example to suggest that mental stimulation might curb the effects of ageing.

As we all don’t have the Queen’s social calendar it is important to create activities and social engagements for yourself.

Harvard Health suggests 12 ways in which you can maintain brain function.

This includes what they call “mental gymnastics.” Word puzzles, maths problems, painting and drawing are all examples of activities that require manual dexterity as well as mental effort.

They also suggest physical exercise. As your brain is constantly receiving and sending out signals and messages around the body it is important to increase the connections between brain cells, also known as synapses. Physical exercise is one way to do this as by exercising the number of tiny blood vessels that bring oxygen rich blood to the region increases.

An improved diet, low blood pressure, low cholesterol and avoiding tobacco are all other ways in which you can help your brain to stay fit and healthy. Be like the Queen and never stop learning to keep your brain active.

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