Healthy aging depends upon a healthy brain. How many times do you start to say something only to find that the word or the name that is right there on the tip of your tongue just won’t come? It happens to me all the time and not only does it frustrate me; it frightens me.
I’m frightened of dementia, but I’m also scared of just the ordinary decline in cognitive ability that comes from the normal wear and tear on our brains as we get older. Our brains can atrophy – just like our muscles – and I want to do everything I can do to prevent or slow that decline.
What can we do to protect our brains?
There’s plenty of great information out there, and I’ll be coming back to it over the next few weeks. But a good place to start is with an article out of US News and World Report by Samantha Costa in which she discusses a recent important study that offers six simple things we can do to improve our brain health. All of these ideas come from her article. The good news is that there’s reason to be hopeful because the neurons on the brain can be maintained and even re-established.
Six Tips for a Healthy Brain
- Be physically active. Every study starts with this. Do something physical. It doesn’t need to be running a marathon. Just take a walk or a bike ride or work in your yard. Move it. It’s essential!
- Reduce your cardiovascular risk factors. What’s good for your heart is good for your brain. Don’t smoke. Treat your high cholesterol and your high blood pressure. Eat a healthy diet, and maintain a healthy weight.
- Ask your doctor if any of the medications you’re taking can affect your cognitive abilities. If that’s the case, see if you can take a different medication.
- Sleep well. We’ll talk more about how to do this in coming weeks.
- Stay engaged with other people. Social connections are good for the brain because they help with mood. A future blog will offer tips on how to build this sense of community.
- Stimulate your brain. This is where you can really find the fun stuff.
In my next blog, we’ll get started with it. We’d love to hear your suggestions.
What are you doing to workout your brain?
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