Regular exercise delivers more oxygen to the brain and improves brain circulation. It also nurtures the growth of new nerve cells in critical parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning and decision-making. Regular exercise can slow cognitive decline in people with a higher risk of developing inherited Alzheimer’s disease. Try regular walking. It can improve brain activity for everyone, including those with early dementia.
How often should you exercise?
- Try moderate-intensity exercises (like brisk walking) for 30 – 45 minutes daily.
- If you’re at higher risk of Alzheimer’s, try 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise 5 times a week.
Constant brain activity:
High levels of brain activity throughout your life will reduce age-related shrinking of the brain. It will also help slow the onset of any dementia symptoms.
Brain stimulation improves executive functioning, such as being able to:
- focus attention
- remember instructions
- juggle multiple tasks successfully
Constantly challenge your brain by:
- Learning a new skill
- Learning a new hobby
- Learning a different language
- Learning the lyrics to a song
- Playing chess, Scrabble, or other games
Consider a plant-based diet, such as the Mediterranean diet. It’s rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and low in meat and sugar. The Mediterranean diet can reduce your risk of dementia. It can also slow the progress of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) - a recognized risk factor for dementia. A recent study (by CARDIA) showed that people who used the Mediterranean diet strictly throughout adulthood had improved brain functioning in midlife.
Control heart health:
Watch your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. Ask your doctor to check these levels during your annual check-up. If any are above the normal range, ask your doctor how to reduce them. Follow any treatment and follow up with your doctor often. Staying within a normal range will significantly reduce your risk of developing dementia.
Connect with people and have conversations. Find opportunities to meet and interact with people. Explore volunteering or consider joining a club.
Smoking and alcohol issues:
Quit smoking and limit your alcohol intake. Ask your doctor for strategies to stop smoking.
Check your hearing:
When you wear hearing aids, it can reduce adverse health issues like loneliness. Loneliness is associated with dementia.
Treat depression promptly:
Find treatment for depression to improve your quality of life. Returning to previously enjoyed activities and active social life can improve brain health.
Want to learn more? Check out this video by Dr. Eric Smith about how to reduce the risk of dementia.