10 Ways to Love Your Brain & Reduce Your Risk of Cognitive Decline! by Donna John

10 Ways to Love Your Brain & Reduce Your Risk of Cognitive Decline!

The Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Illinois Chapter, offers 10 ways to love your brain and help reduce your risk of cognitive impairment!

  1. Break a sweat. Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body.
  2. Hit the books. Formal education in any stage of life will help reduce your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. For example, take a class at a local college, community center or online.
  3. Butt out. Evidence shows that smoking increases risk of cognitive decline.
  4. Follow your heart. Evidence shows that risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke – obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – negatively impact your cognitive health. Take care of your heart, and your brain just might follow.
  5. Heads up! Brain injury can raise your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Wear a seat belt, use a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike, and take steps to prevent falls.
  6. Fuel up right. Eat a healthy and balanced diet that is lower in fat and higher in vegetables and fruit to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
  7. Catch some Zzz's. Not getting enough sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea may result in problems with memory and thinking.
  8. Take care of your mental health. Some studies link a history of depression with increased risk of cognitive decline, so seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns. Also, try to manage stress.
  9. Buddy up. Staying socially engaged may support brain health. Pursue social activities that are meaningful to you. 
  10. Stump yourself. Challenge and activate your mind. Build a piece of furniture. Complete a jigsaw puzzle. Do something artistic. Play games, such as bridge, that make you think strategically.

In addition to reducing your risk of cognitive decline, these tips may also reduce your risk of dementia. Learn more about dementia, cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease here.

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