Boomer Exercise / Memory Program (BEMP)

By Sandra Nachlinger

Don’t you hate it when you forget things? I’ve noticed an increase in that problem lately, and since I’m a Baby Boomer approaching Geezerdom, it’s especially worrisome. Oh, I don’t forget serious things – I rarely call my dog by my son’s name, and I do remember my wedding anniversary – but little stuff often seeps from my brain like air from a tire with a slow leak. Things like…what was the name of the star of that movie? And what was the movie’s name anyhow? And why did I go upstairs? It seems the only way to remember is to retrace my steps.

This past weekend I was getting ready to go to a meeting of my writers’ group. My husband, Bob, sat in his recliner, reading, while I showered, dressed and prepared to leave. I brought my notebook downstairs and…oops…I’d forgotten my cell phone, charging on my nightstand. I dashed back up to get it. As I descended, Bob looked up, smiled, and went back to his book. Then I realized that I’d meant to pick up the pages I’d planned to take with me. Back upstairs to fetch those from the printer. Back downstairs my husband looked up, raised his eyebrows, but said nothing. The third time up was to get a newspaper article I’d clipped to share with the rest of the group and left on my desk – in full view, right by the printer, where I couldn’t possibly forget it.

This time Bob stared at me and shook his head.

I heard his thoughts and answered, “The reason I haven’t gained any weight is that I spend my days going up and down the stairs, fetching things I’ve forgotten.”

A wise man, he refrained from commenting on that statement.

That’s when it occurred to me that I might be onto something – something I’m calling the Boomer Exercise/Memory Program – or BEMP for short.

I thought of how many calories people of a certain age burn every day when they’re retracing their steps to retrieve forgotten items. Misplaced Kindles, grocery lists, checkbooks – our trips back and forth and back again to retrieve those things add up to an amazing number of steps, especially for Boomers who live in two-story houses. I’m sure I’ve burned thousands of calories just searching for my eyeglasses alone, both from the steps I’ve taken and from the frustration of trying to find the aid I need for seeing – when I can’t see to find it.

And that’s just at home. There are my walks up and down the aisles of the grocery store, trying to remember the one item I drove there to get but that won’t reveal itself. Was it some kind of fresh vegetable? Should I be looking in the bakery section? Or maybe we’re out of toilet paper? I’ll confess that I’ve called my husband more than once to see if he can give me clues as to why I’m wandering around Safeway. (His cell phone number is programmed into mine. Otherwise, I know I’d never be able to recall it.) Those are definitely BEMP calorie-burning moments.

Then there’s the search of the parking lot for my car. Pushing an over-laden cart up and down rows of almost identical silver Honda and Toyotas and Chevys – clicking the remote entry gadget, hoping the car will blink its headlights and beep to reveal its hiding place in the herd – that results in more exercise. A friend wishes someone would invent a car that comes when called or that she’d tied a red helium balloon to the door handle when parking. Good ideas, but the car-hunt exercise has the positive effect of increasing BEMP numbers in both the steps-taken and frustration categories.

As you can see, applications of this program are endless. And this morning I discovered scientific research that takes my BEMP idea a step further. An article in Science News magazine, published earlier this year, touts the advantages of exercise for seniors as a way of actually improving memory function. To quote from the article:

“A year of moderate exercise doesn’t just bulk up muscles – it beefs up the brain, too, a new study finds…Study participants who got their heart rates up performed slightly better on a memory test and had higher levels of a brain-aiding molecule called BDNF, the researchers found…This whole idea that something as simple as exercise can actually benefit the brain and offset some of the changes that occur with normal aging is an emerging frontier – that’s what’s exciting about it.”

It seems that in a twisted sort of way, forgetting things (and the resulting exercise needed to find the things you’ve forgotten) can help your brain remember!

I’ve decided to send details of my BEMP program to AARP and maybe to Doctor Oz. Perhaps the retiree group will feature me in their magazine, or Oprah’s esteemed diet guru may invite me to be guest on his TV show. I’ll contact them this afternoon, if I can just remember where I put their email addresses….

Science News link:

About this writer

  • Sandra Nachlinger Sandra Nachlinger is retired and spends her free time quilting, lunching and writing. Together with her lifelong friend, Sandra Allen, she has recently published her first novel, I.O.U. Sex. It’s the story of three Baby Boomer women who search for their high school boyfriends years after graduation. It is available as an eBook and in paperback.

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11 Responses to “Boomer Exercise / Memory Program (BEMP)”

  1. Mary Maxwell says:

    Sad to say, I can relate to this. On the positive side, however, at least we are getting some exercise. I really enjoy your clever perspective, as always !

  2. Colleen L. Reece says:

    Great job, Sandy! This is so funny . . . and exactly what I do. I am one of those who can lose a pen without ever leaving my desk.

    Love the humor and the writing is superb. I am proud of you!

    Colleen L. Reece, Author
    140+ “Books You Can Trust”

  3. Linda A says:

    Sandra! I KNOW that I can workout using the BEMP program! Thanks so much for the great article!

  4. This is a great article, Sandra! I Can so identify with it. The other day I left the house to run errands and I took TWO lists with me… One of all the places I had to go, and a separate one with a list of items I had to buy.

    It worked pretty well. Now if I could only figure out a way to keep track of the new things I think of on the way from one venue to another.

    Like when I pass the car dealership and remember I need to call my mechanic and make an appointment to get the oil changed.

    It seems I only remember this when I pass the dealership – and they’re not where I go for service.

    Hmmm. Better write it down on a new list – right now!

  5. Great writing! Brought a smile to my face as I was reading and so true!Now if I could just remember…

  6. Lori Pollard-Johnson says:

    Love it! The way I always heard it was “Healthy Body, Healthy Mind.” At least I think that’s the way I always heard it…

  7. DPedece says:

    I love this article. So identifiable. Wonderful images, such as the car hiding in a herd of other cars. “Geezerdom” is a terrific addition to anyone’s vocabulary.

  8. Love this, Sandy. Too, too true! Am going to repost (if I can) on my FB.

  9. A. locmelis says:

    Very nice article for all folks of the Boomer age, not women only.

  10. Joani says:

    Thanks, Sandy, for this fun read. It is so true and
    loved the way you put it all together.
    We all benefit from daily exercise, even a
    few walks upstairs will jog the brain.

  11. Loved this piece, Sandy. I shall try to refer back to it when I am cursing myself for yet again forgetting what I got up to get – and instead think of it is valuable exercise…

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