What does your brain have to gain from a healthy heart?
There are many reasons to focus on having a healthy heart at any age. For senior adults maintaining a healthy heart and brain can help preserve your independence and quality of life.
Making positive lifestyle choices is the best way to affect positively both your heart health and brain health. Forming new habits in areas like physical health and exercise, diet and nutrition, cognitive activity, and social engagement — can help keep your body and brain healthy and potentially reduce your risk of cognitive decline.
Growing evidence indicates that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by adopting key lifestyle habits. When possible, combine these habits to achieve maximum benefit for the brain and body. Start now. It’s never too late or too early to incorporate healthy habits.
• Physical exercise: even moderate walking, if done regularly, increases oxygen content in the brain. This helps to create new brain cells as well as grow new neurons and the release of natural endorphins that improve mood, reducing the need for artificial anti-depressants (Banner Alzheimer’s Institute)
• Nutrition: plays a very important role in developing a healthier heart and brain. It is believed that most people will benefit with a diet that is low in sodium and has a good balance of fruit, vegetables, protein, carbohydrates and fiber (Alzheimer’s Association)
• Stress free living environments: Senior adults who live in an environment that is stress free, offers daily nutritious meals, an active lifestyle and socialization have seen an increase in their physical and mental health (Mather Lifeways Institute on Aging)
• Brain exercise: Just like physical exercise, brain exercises can help slow down progressive diseases like memory loss and dementia. Studies have also shown that learning something new (maybe something that has been on your bucket list for a long time) challenges your brain in new ways
In three short weeks we will experience a brand new year. The end of the year is often a time when we reflect on what we want our future to look like. I hope that you will take time during this wonderful holiday season to relax and decide on ways you can help your heart and your brain!
Jon Scott Williams