There are lifestyle habits that you can adopt to maintain or potentially improve your health as you age. These habits, spanning four categories — physical health and exercise, diet and nutrition, cognitive activity, and social engagement — can help keep your body and brain healthy and potentially reduce your risk of cognitive decline.
Research has suggested that combining good nutrition with mental, social and physical activities may have a greater benefit in maintaining or improving brain health than any single activity.
Embrace lifestyle habits that improve your overall health, such as exercising, consuming a nutritious diet, and staying cognitively and socially active — science suggests these may support brain health as well. It’s never too late to make changes to achieve a healthier lifestyle — or too early to start.
Staying Mentally Active
Mentally challenging activities, such as learning a new skill, adopting a new hobby or engaging in formal education, may have short and long-term benefits for your brain. To keep your mind active, it is important to participate in activities that expose your mind to new topics.
Challenge yourself to games with strategy or high-level reading material, or determine how to approach a familiar task in a more effective way. Selecting activities you enjoy will increase the likelihood that you will continue to engage in them over time.
Another way to stay mentally active is to get as much formal education as you can, at any point in life. Formal education is classroom-based learning administered by professionally trained teachers. Engaging in this type of education will help keep your brain healthy and may protect your brain from developing dementia. This could involve taking a class at a local college or community center that teaches a new topic, skill or hobby (e.g., learning a language or how to play an instrument).
Staying Socially Active
Social engagement is associated with reduced rates of disability and mortality, and may also reduce risk for depression. Remaining socially active may support brain health and possibly delay the onset of dementia. There are many ways to stay socially active in your community, and these activities will provide the greatest connection to others.
Participation in clubs, volunteer efforts and other community pursuits may be valuable in maintaining your overall health. Many of these social activities are low-cost or free, such as joining a walking group or book club in your neighborhood. Staying socially active can also be as simple as engaging with friends and family on a regular basis.
Pursue social activities that are meaningful to you. For instance, if you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter or with a rescue group.
For more information, contact Spring Arbor.