Healthy Habits, Healthy Brain?

Health & Well Being

Learn the connection between the two

What’s good for your physical health may also be good for your mental health. That’s something to consider if you’re worried about getting dementia. While there’s no guarantee, there may be ways to help keep your mind sharp as you age.

For instance:

Keep moving. Exercise may help prevent or control dementia risk factors, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Most healthy adults should aim for about 2 1/2 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity* (like brisk walking) each week. But any amount of exercise is better than none.

Maintain a healthy weight. Regular physical activity, along with healthy eating, may help tip the scales in your favor.

Crush a tobacco habit for good. If you smoke, ask your doctor for help quitting.

Control your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. High blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol may harm your blood vessels and your brain. If you have any of these conditions, follow the treatment plan your doctor gives you. A healthy diet and lifestyle may help you manage these conditions. You may need medicines too.

If you drink, do so moderately. Drinking a lot of alcohol may harm your memory and contribute to health conditions — like high blood pressure — that may lead to dementia.

Get enough shut-eye. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night.

Don’t ignore a hearing problem. Did you know that untreated hearing loss may raise your risk of dementia? Protect your ears from loud noises. If you have trouble hearing, tell your provider.

Get help for depression. Your emotional and mental health may affect your dementia risk. Some possible signs of depression include feeling hopeless, feeling extra tired, having trouble concentrating and losing interest in your favorite activities.

*Talk with your doctor before increasing your activity level. Ask about the amounts and types of activities that may be best for you.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Institute on Aging