According to the Alzheimer’s Association: “More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. By 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 13 million.” Although Alzheimer’s is likely developed due to a number of factors, including age, genetics, environment, lifestyle and coexisting medical conditions, a combination of healthy habits can help keep your mind sharp and reduce your risk of developing symptoms later in life.
Here are five, research-based tips for a healthy brain:
Yup. You knew it was coming, we knew it was coming. According to the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent. Physical exercise increases and blood and oxygen flow to the brain, which stimulates its ability to maintain old connections and make new ones.
HelpGuide recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week, including weight and resistance training as well as balance and coordination exercises.
Physical activity is important, but so is mental activity. Challenging your brain with complex tasks and strategy games can be a great way to reduce cognitive decline. According to the NHS, “there is some evidence to suggest that rates of dementia are lower in people who remain mentally and socially active throughout their lives.”
Try puzzles, games, group sports, musical instruments, reading, crafts, cooking, etc.—anything that activates your brain and encourages you to continue learning.
Reduced Alcohol Consumption
It’s no mystery that heavy alcohol consumption can lead to a number of negative health affects, but did you know it can dramatically increase your risk for Alzheimer’s? According to a 2017 study, alcohol consumption, even at moderate levels, is associated with adverse brain outcomes including hippocampal atrophy.
If you are looking to reduce your alcohol consumption, consider trying low- to no-alcohol beverages, counting your drinks, learning to say “no,” and trying out different mocktail recipes!
Among the most common tips for preventing cognitive decline is quitting smoking. Aside from the obvious risks of smoking like cancer and heart issues, smoking can also increase your risk for Alzheimer’s, likely because smoking increases the risk for cardiovascular disease.
If you decide to stop smoking now, your chances at improved, healthier brain function rise, even if you have smoked for many years. When you are ready to quit smoking, reach out to your primary care physician.
Did you know? Some health insurance plans offer smoking cessation programs. Contact your ARC representative to learn more.
As we learned in 2020, social connection is key to a happy, healthy life. But did you know that building and maintaining social networks has been associated with a lower risk of dementia?
Because humans are vastly social creatures, our brains thrive in social environments. Consider different ways you can become more involved in your community or create social bonds such as volunteering, joining a book club, taking a group class, connecting via social media, getting to know your neighbors, and so on.