The condition of your blood vessels may determine a lot about the health of your brain, according to new research. Lifestyle changes protect the heart- and the brain. “It’s never too late to improve your brain health.” These tips may help improve your physical health, your brain health, and cognitive abilities.
1. Move More
Aim for 150 minutes or more of aerobic exercise each week. If you’ve not been moving regularly, don’t worry. Merrill pointed out that one study found sedentary older adults who participated in a new habit of walking regularly for one year showed significant improvements in memory performance that also related to the growth of memory areas in the brain.
2. Build Muscle
Aerobic exercise coupled with strength training at least two times per week has been shown to improve heart health, according to Merrill. “We now know that these activities in all likelihood also improve brain health,” he said.
3. Be More Mindful
Anxiety and stress take a toll on your mental health, but they can also impact your physical and brain health, too. Regular meditation or a mindfulness practice may help reduce the risk of worsening vascular health.
4. Sleep Tight
Poor or inadequate sleep is worsening health and vascular risk factors, including high blood pressure and weight gain.
Your brain needs those “off” hours to help clean up neurons and synapses and make memories. When you don’t get quality sleep, your brain health and your physical health are significantly impacted.
5. Use Your Brain
“Remaining cognitively active through social activities, like attending a book club or taking a cooking class, may help slow down or stave off the development of memory loss and associated depression with aging,” Merrill said.
The Bottom Line
Research connecting poor physical health with deteriorating brain health is increasing. This study finds that vascular risk factors can damage your brain’s health, which could slow thinking skills and even lead to changes that resemble Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. A healthy lifestyle can help you prevent risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. If you already have one or more of these risk factors, you may be able to make lifestyle changes that can reverse the conditions and help improve your brain health.