Physical activity is a valuable part of any overall body wellness plan and is associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline. If it’s safe for you, engage in cardiovascular exercise to elevate your heart rate. This will increase the blood flow to your brain and body, providing additional nourishment while reducing potential dementia risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.
Consider physical activities that may also be mentally or socially engaging, such as walking with a friend, taking a dance class, joining an exercise group or golfing. Incorporate activity that you enjoy so you will continue to engage in it. For example, bike riding, gardening or walking the dog. Adopting healthy exercise habits today will allow you to enjoy the lifelong benefits of regular physical activity. However, it’s never too late to start — making healthy choices at any age is beneficial to your well-being. Always consult your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
- Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in older adults, and one-third of adults over age 65 fall every year.
- Falls in which your head is injured may affect your brain’s ability to function normally, causing unconsciousness, confusion and other symptoms.
- Engage in regular physical activity to improve your strength and balance and reduce your risk of falling.
- At home, cover or put objects out of the way that may increase your risk of tripping and falling, such as shoes or electrical cords.
- Turn on lights when you enter a room so you can clearly see obstacles. Consider installing extra lighting in areas that tend to be dark.
Take care of your health
Keep your heart healthy to help keep your brain healthy. Growing evidence suggests that many factors that increase the risk of heart disease also may increase the risk of dementia. These factors include smoking, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
- Visit your doctor regularly.
- Get your “numbers” checked, including weight, blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. Actively seek treatment to keep yourself within healthy ranges.
- If you have diabetes, manage it properly.
- Stop smoking. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
- Take action to minimize stress. Studies have found that regular physical activity decreases stress, increases your ability to manage stress and leads to better mood overall.
- Get enough sleep. Inadequate sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea can result in problems with memory and thinking.
- Avoid excess alcohol.
- Seek professional assistance to address anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns.