Is Your Brain Fit?
Let’s take a moment to give your brain a checkup. Your brain is the control center for your body. Just like any piece of equipment we need to take care of it so that it runs efficiently and will last a lifetime. How well you age depends on three things. They are: your genes or family history, the environment with which you live, learn, earn and play in. And finally the lifestyle choices you make every day.
The other organ which is essential for your brain and body function is your heart. The heart and the brain work in harmony with one another to keep you alive. If your heart is not working well, that can cause a reduction of blood flow to the brain. The brain needs oxygen and ample blood flow to work at its best. Roughly 25% of the blood from each heartbeat goes to the brain.
It is important to take care of your brain as you age. There are four areas we need to focus on to get our brains fit. They are cognitive activity, physical health and exercise, diet and nutrition and social engagement.
What we know…
Keeping your mind active forms new connections among your brain cells. Learning new ideas encourages blood flow to the brain. Be sure to engage in activities that stimulate the brain to improve cognitive function. Engaging in formal education is one of the best ways to keep your brain healthy and it can provide protection against developing dementia.
Research has shown that regular and vigorous physical activity increases blood flow to the brain. This cardiovascular activity may reduce your risk of cognitive decline.
Nutritious food is fuel for the brain and your heart. Eating a nutritious diet can reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, stroke and diabetes. Just like the old adage, you are what you eat!
Social engagement is associated with living longer and with fewer disabilities. Staying involved in activities in your community help you to maintain your skills. By remaining socially and mentally active may support brain health and possibly delay the onset of dementia.
What can we do?
- Cognitive Activity – Read a book, complete a puzzle, learn a new skill or hobby and become a lifelong learner.
- Physical activity – Check with your doctor before you start and get moving! Any movement is better than no movement! Start out small and safely.
Guest Post By Denise G. Dias, M.S.
Denise works in the Extension Agent/Family & Consumer Sciences Department at the Johnson County K-State Research and Extension Office.