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How To Keep Your Brain Healthy

Your physical health, your brain health and your cognitive abilities are all connected. According to new research, the condition of your blood vessels may influence the health of your brain. Smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes are all conditions that affect your blood vessels, also known as vascular risk factors. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh who studied MRI brain scans of over 9,000 people found that over time these factors may lead to brain deterioration. They also increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

The good news is, it’s never too late to improve your health. Here are a few tips to protect your brain health by improving your physical health.

1. Get moving

Exercise has both physical and mental benefits. Aim for 150 minutes—or more—of aerobic exercise, like jogging or walking, each week. This can be done in short but effective 30 minute workouts, 5 days a week.

2. Build muscle

Add some strength training to your workout routine. When strength training is coupled with aerobic exercise it can improve heart health, which in turn, improves brain health.

3. Eat a heart-healthy diet

Pay attention to your diet to control your blood pressure. Try cutting out frozen meals, take out and deli meats, which are high in sodium. Opt for more brain-boosting foods, like blueberries, nuts and fatty fish.

4. Say no to stress

Practicing mindfulness or meditating regularly can help reduce the risk of anxiety and stress.

5. Get enough sleep

Poor sleep can actually worsen vascular risk factors, like high blood pressure and weight gain. Make sure to give your brain the “off hours” it needs to recharge and make memories.

6. Work your brain out

Social activities like taking a class can help you remain cognitively active. This may help slow down or stave off the development of memory loss that’s typically associated with depression and aging.

7. Pay attention to blood pressure

Make sure you are monitoring your blood pressure regularly or at least every six months. If your numbers are steadily creeping higher, talk to your doctor.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Annual physical exams are a great way to stay on top of your health and they’re free when you use a Preferred provider.