We’ve all had those moments – you walk into the kitchen and forget why you went. You know you wrote that phone number down but have no idea where you put it. We laugh about having a “blonde” or “senior” moment, and small acts of forgetfulness like this are completely normal. We all probably know someone, though, who has suffered from dementia or Alzheimer’s, which are conditions that move beyond the mere forgetting of keys to much more serious medical issuess. If you have experienced this in your life, you know how devastating it can be. Dr. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Longevity Center and an expert in Alzheimer’s, says, “If everyone in the United States added just one healthy habit, it might prevent or delay a million cases of Alzheimer’s disease that would otherwise be expected to occur over five years.” Here are a few habits each of us can add to exercise and strengthen our brains!
Key portions of the brain get worked when you get off the couch and exercise. Build those brain muscles as you work your biceps! Here is a quick and effective routine you can do every morning to improve blood flow, energy, spine health and brain power.
Challenge your mind
Take a new class, do puzzles, have in depth conversations with friends about current events, take a different route home from work, do homework with your kids, put away your GPS and actually use a good old fashioned map. Challenge those brain cells in small ways every day. There are many puzzle apps you can download into your phones. Try doing one (instead of Facebook 🙂 for five minutes every day!
Surround yourself with friends
Studies suggest that having a network of friends can lower the risk of dementia by as much as 60%. But steer clear of high-drama and stress inducing friendships, as stressed people are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as calm ones according to one study!
Food for your brain
If you are overweight at midlife, it doubles your risk for dementia. If you are obese, it quadruples it. Now is the time to really commit to getting your weight under control. Eat lots of produce, whole grains and omega-3’s and decrease fat and sugar. Diabetes also is a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s. By eating well you can help prevent both!
Think of your brain as a muscle that needs to be worked and strengthened, like any other muscle in your body. Take control of your mind to increase the positive thoughts and decrease the negative ones. Feed your brain healthy food, and take care of your body through exercise and proper eating. These will all help send you on the road to a healthier brain.