Lifestyle Activities that Promote Brain Health
We talk a lot about food and how our eating habits have an impact on our overall health, including our cognitive well-being. But what about other lifestyle choices? What are healthy habits we can employ in order to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's Disease and dementia?
A good rule of thumb for exercise is to schedule 1 hour workouts 3-4 days a week. Workouts should be a mix of aerobic and weight resistance. If you have any medical conditions or concerns about your level of activity consult with a medical care provider.
Find the activities you enjoy doing the most, that way you will be more likely to stick to it. There is no right or wrong when it comes to what you choose as long as you get your heart rate up and feel like you are doing work. And, if you feel like you are getting bored, change things up!
Exercise helps stimulate the functions of the brain and keeps it working in the same way exercise helps your muscles grow and your heart pumping. Exercise circulates oxygen to your brain and aids the release of the necessary hormones communicating instructions to other organs.
Regulate Your Sleep Schedule:
Ideally, you should sleep 7-9 hours every night. Even better, you should have a fairly regular routine: Go to bed at the same time at night and wake up at the same time in the morning. Sleep allows the brain to recharge and process and store information. Lack of sleep can increase the risk of brain degeneration.
Chit chat! Find time to spend with friends and family. Activity and social conversation keeps the brain stimulated. Plan a night out with your friends or join a networking or hobby group. You could also take a class or volunteer for one of your favorite passions. Like with exercise, you don’t have to force yourself to do something you don’t like to do, nor do you have be a social butterfly. Figure out what types of activities you like best, what fits your comfort level, and get out and interact with other people.
Work On Puzzle Games Or Similar Brain Stimulating Activities:
Your brain needs to be intellectually engaged. Unfortunately, this does not include TV or video games. Reading, crossword puzzles, Sudoko or memory games are great ways to keep your brain wheels turning.
Another way to stimulate your brain intellectually is to switch up your routine tasks. Take a different route to work or practice eating with your non-dominate hand. In other words, think about things you mindlessly do every day and try out a new way to accomplish that task. A challenged brain is an energized brain.
Neuroscientists have discovered that high stress levels have a direct correlation to brain health. Too much stress can lead to brain deterioration.
Again, like exercise and social interaction you have to find what works best for you. For some, managing stress means meditation, for others it means vigorous exercise. For most, it’s probably somewhere in between.
Keeping stress levels low also helps keep blood pressure at a steady rate. As we know, high blood pressure leads to Diabetes which, in turn, increases the risk early onset Alzheimer’s.
In conclusion, things are easier said than done. Often times we give up because we are told we must do this or that. If you want to take care of your brain, and your body as a whole, should you do all of the above? Yes, absolutely. But, how you choose to go about it is up to you. Make it easier on yourself and find what makes you feel good about how you spend your time. Set smaller short-term goals first and then advance to bigger long-term goals next. Work is required, but it is worth it when you find yourself living a long healthy happy life. And, never forget, there are people who can help, you just have to ask.