Studies on brain health show there is growing evidence that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by embracing healthy lifestyle habits. Combining these good habits will achieve maximum benefit for the brain and body. The Alzheimer’s Association reminds us that it is never too late or too early to incorporate healthy habits into our daily routines.
Here are eight ways you can “love your brain” into good health:
- BREAK A SWEAT – engage in regular cardiovascular exercise to elevate your heart rate and increase the blood flow to your brain and body. Several studies have shown an association between regular physical activity and a reduced risk of cognitive decline including Alzheimer’s.
- HIT THE BOOKS – education at any stage of life will help reduce your risk of dementia. Take a class at a local college or online, or read a mentally stimulating book.
- CHALLENGE AND ACTIVATE your mind – learning while doing may have both short and long term benefits for your brain. Complete a jigsaw puzzle. Build a piece of furniture. Create something artistic. Play games, especially ones that make you think strategically.
- BUTT OUT – smoking increases risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce that risk to levels comparable to those who have never smoked.
- TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEART and your brain might follow. Risk factors for stroke and cardiovascular disease, such as obesity, high-blood pressure and diabetes, have a negative impact on your cognitive health.
- FUEL UP RIGHT – eat a healthy and balanced diet to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. This includes more vegetables and fruit, as well as healthy fats versus the fats found in most processed and fast food. Healthy dietary approaches including the Mediterranean diet and Mediterranean-DASH diet may contribute to risk reduction.
- CATCH ENOUGH ZZZ’s – not getting enough sleep may result in problems with memory and clear thinking. A minimum of seven hours a night is recommended for most.
- BUDDY UP – staying socially engaged helps support brain health. Pursue social activities that are meaningful to you. If you enjoy singing, join a local choir or help at an after school program. If you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter. Find ways to be part of your community. Go for a walk with a friend or join an exercise group.
Physical activity is a valuable part of any overall wellness plan, in addition to its association with a lower risk of cognitive decline. Cardiovascular exercise elevates your heart rate, which increases the blood flow to your brain, providing additional nourishment while reducing potential dementia risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.
Adopting healthy exercise habits today will allow you to enjoy the lifelong benefits of regular physical activity. It’s never too late to start!
One of the benefits of in-home care for seniors is having a care companion who will encourage walks and other exercise and be someone to play games and do activities with. Another is that Companion Care caregivers are trained and experienced in communicating and working with clients who have cognitive challenges or dementia.