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Age Smart:
How to Age Well, Stay Fit and Be Happy

by Harriet Vines, Ph.D.

      "Remember, it's not what age you are that matters, it's how you age," says author Harriet Vines, Ph.D in her new book, Age Smart: How to Age Well, Stay Fit and Be Happy. This book reflects much of the new research done about aging and puts it into practice. Kathy Jedrziewski, the Deputy Director of The Institute on Aging at the University of Pennsylvania, said in an interview last year, "There seems to be a lot of promising evidence out there that cognitively stimulating activities, and perhaps leisure activities, may help to delay the onset or prevent Alzheimer's Disease and dementia."

Vines has put together practical information and a series of exercises to help us all age well, or as she says, Age Smart. Vines' book offers information about how to be happy and ways to adopt a healthy lifestyle, including eating right, doing physical exercise, and participating in stimulating activities. But the hallmark of her book is the emphasis on cognitive exercises that she includes in each of the seven chapters, with the Age Smart Fitness Trials at the end. .

Each of these exercises or Mental Fitness Workouts (MFWs) works on different skills. First, she begins with a relaxation warmup that puts the body and mind into a more receptive state in order to do these activities. This is a good skill to learn because it can help us focus and manage stress. Then she moves into mental calisthenics. These are concentration exercises such as spelling the names of everyone in your family and then spelling them backwards. From there, she offers Sensory Drills, which offer a variety of ways to use your senses, and then Isometrics, Visualization, Sprints, Mental Gymnastics, Resistance Training, Mental Aerobics, Weight Training, Stretching, Conscious Recall, and Cool Down. Each of these exercises is a challenging puzzle, dealing with words, numbers, logic, and memory.

A lot of these MFWs are like games we played as kids (I Spy or Scattergories). Some are similar to those found in puzzle books. All of them are fun and can be done alone. However, the Stretching exercises often spark memories or ideas that you can add to conversation. Vines also encourages readers to keep a Mental Fitness Journal, set fitness goals, and get out and mingle with others.

I found Age Smart to be a great tool for anyone who wanted to sharpen their mental prowess. This is especially helpful for older people. The exercises are indeed fun and many can be varied and repeated often. I also found them challenging puzzles and will be coming back to them often. Vines recommends that if you want to increase your mental fitness, you need to do activities like these daily. That's wise advice. Grab a copy of Age Smart to find a good regime to begin your mental fitness.

The Book

Llumina Press
July 2007
Trade paperback
1595267417 / 978-1595267412
More at

The Reviewer

Janie Franz
Reviewed 2007
NOTE: Reviewer Janie Franz is the author of Freelance Writing: Itís a Business, Stupid!and co-author of The Ultimate Wedding Reception Book and The Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Book. Coming Soon: The Ultimate Wedding Workbook.
© 2007