To some extent, your brain health is determined by factors outside your control, such as genetics and aging.
But there are quite a few things you can control that will have a positive (or negative) impact on your brain health.
If you want to keep your mind sharp and reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, you’ll need to take steps to protect your brain and keep it healthy.
Why You Should Care About Your Brain Health
Your brain is responsible for nearly everything you do, from the simplest tasks to the most complex processes.
It controls your movement, regulates your emotions, and allows you to think, learn, and remember. It’s constantly sending and receiving signals throughout your body and using these messages to govern your heartbeat, breathing, digestion, and so much more. It also allows you to interact and communicate with the world around you.
In short, your brain is not just for thinking. It’s responsible for keeping you alive and functioning, and it does all of this incredibly complex work all day, every day, from birth to death.
Unfortunately, your brain is susceptible to damage and disease. And as brain health declines, all of these vital functions can potentially be impacted.
With Alzheimer’s disease, for example, many people are familiar with the memory loss and cognitive decline that can occur. But in its later stages, the disease can also cause movement, swallowing, and even breathing problems.
By the time damage to the brain occurs, it’s often irreversible. This is why it’s so important to protect your brain health and prevent damage from occurring in the first place.
Increase Your Physical Activity
Although many people associate exercise with muscle building, strength training, and weight loss, it’s so much more important than that.
Exercise has a profound impact on your brain health. Physical activity increases blood flow to your brain, which delivers oxygen and nutrients needed to function properly. Exercise also helps to reduce inflammation and lowers your risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, which may also impact your brain health.
In the long term, regular exercise can help to protect your brain from age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. It also has a more immediate effect on your mood and energy levels and your ability to concentrate, remember, and problem-solve.
Beyond weight-lifting and marathon running, activities like walking, dancing, gardening, swimming, and sports can all help to improve your brain health. The key is to find an activity you enjoy and make it a regular routine.
Expand Your Social Activities
Your social life can also have an impact on your brain health.
People with strong social ties and a robust social life are less likely to experience cognitive decline and memory problems as they age. They’re also less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Social interactions and connecting with others can also help prevent and manage mental health problems like depression, chronic stress, and anxiety.
There are many ways to expand your social activities, whether joining a club, attending community events, playing team games, or simply spending time with family and friends.
Enhance Your Cognitive Activities
Your brain, like your muscles, needs to be worked out to stay strong and healthy. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.
Examples of cognitive activities include:
- creative art
- learning a new language or instrument
- crossword puzzles
- intellectual pursuits
When you are searching for activities to improve your cognitive health, it’s important to find something that is the right amount of challenging for you. It won’t be stimulating enough to help you or keep you interested if it’s too easy. If it’s too hard, it will be discouraging and stressful, and you’re likely to give up.
It can also be helpful to think about hobbies, tasks, or activities you can improve at. Improving and mastering something can be very satisfying, motivating, and confidence-boosting.