More and more medical research is appearing which links simple lifestyle changes to preventing cognitive decline. A recent article in the August 22, 2016 issue of Time Magazine highlights research by a Virginia neurologist, Dr. Majid Fotuhi. He emphasizes six lifestyle changes that may help protect your brain as you age:
Exercise. Physical activity has been shown to reduce both the risk and severity of cognitive decline. Aerobic exercise has been shown to grow the volume of certain brain regions that tend to shrink during aging.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep. Sleeping well appears to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Keep the Brain Active. Learning new things, reading, playing new “brain games” on the internet, and otherwise engaging intellectually with the world makes for better cognitive health in old age.
Be a Social Butterfly. Richer social lives are associated with higher levels of cognition. Loneliness, on the other hand is connected with poor brain health.
Reduce the risk of Heart Disease. Treat hypertension, cholesterol, obesity and type 2 diabetes. A healthy heart has been linked to a healthy brain.
Treat Depression. Depression in middle age, where it is most prevalent, can double the risk of cognitive decline. Get help.
I have heard similar thoughts from a Mayo Clinic neurologist, particularly about the benefits of aerobic exercise. So, it looks like science may be on to something. It may seem simplistic, but if a brisk walk every day will help stave off dementia, in addition to all of its other physical benefits, then we better get moving.