February without a doubt is the month of love. An entire day is even dedicated to celebrating our love of one another. This month, while your signing Valentine’s and sending hugs and kisses, we want you to show some love to that one Valentine you surely can’t live without: your brain. Your brain is the command center of your body and just like your heart, lungs and other critical organs, it deserves to be shown some love. Use these 10 tips to keep you brain healthy and happy and even help reduce your risk of cognitive decline!
BREAK A SWEAT.
Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body. Several studies have found an association between physical activity and reduced risk of cognitive decline.
Evidence shows that smoking increases risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce that risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.
Brain injury can raise your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Wear a seat belt, use a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike, and take steps to prevent falls.
CATCH SOME ZZZ’S.
Not getting enough sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea may result in problems with memory and thinking.
Staying socially engaged may support brain health. Pursue social activities that are meaningful to you. Find ways to be part of your local community – if you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter. If you enjoy singing, join a local choir or help at an afterschool program. Or, just share activities with friends and family.
HIT THE BOOKS.
Formal education in any stage of life will help reduce your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. For example, take a class at a local college, community center or online.
FOLLOW YOUR HEART.
Evidence shows that risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke – obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – negatively impact your cognitive health. Take care of your heart, and your brain just might follow.
FUEL UP RIGHT.
Eat a healthy and balanced diet that is higher in vegetables and fruit to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Although research on diet and cognitive function is limited, certain diets, including Mediterranean and Mediterranean-DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), may contribute to risk reduction.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH.
Some studies link a history of depression with increased risk of cognitive decline, so seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns. Also, try to manage stress.
Challenge and activate your mind. Build a piece of furniture. Complete a jigsaw puzzle. Do something artistic. Play games, such as bridge, that make you think strategically. Challenging your mind may have short and long-term benefits for your brain.
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