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Displaying items by tag: brain exercise

This Valentine’s Day we want to remind you of a special relationship between physical health and level of risk for cognitive decline. You may already be aware that, when you engage in physical activity you are building both physical and mental fitness. What you may not know is there is a “brain-heart-health connection” that influences your risk of cognitive decline: The healthier your heart, the lower your level of risk is for dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). 

What Does a Healthy Brain Require?

The brain-heart-health connection isn’t particularly complex. In a nutshell, a healthy brain requires 3 things:  

  1. glucose (the chemical name for sugar) for energy
  2. a strong blood supply to carry glucose and oxygen into the brain
  3. a healthy diet to provide essential nutrients (vitamins, minerals, healthy fats) that serve as building blocks for brain chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. 

Look over those items once more time. Numbers 1 and 3 on the list are directly related to your diet---what, how often, and how much you eat. Number 2 – a strong blood supply--is related to heart health. So how does heart health relate to brain health?

How a Fit, Healthy Heart Fuels a Fit, Healthy Brain

Your brain relies on a strong heart to pump oxygenated blood into all regions. Scientists now believe that the disease process that leads to Alzheimer’s Disease begins when brain tissue degrades and nerve tissue becomes damaged. Poor circulation to the brain is a key factor in causing such damage to brain tissue.

If you have a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, have diabetes, or other cardiovascular risk factors, it’s not only your heart that is at risk for disease, your brain is as well. For example, a type of dementia called vascular dementia can happen as a result of a series of small, “silent” strokes, sometimes called “mini-strokes.” Also, repeated or prolonged stress on the heart (such as from lack of physical activity, smoking, and stress) can lead to blockages and high blood pressure, which in turn affects circulation to the brain.

The good news is, many of the same things that strengthen the heart also help keep your brain fit and healthy

Exercise Daily. Exercise helps to strengthen the heart making it more efficient with each contraction; it improves the elasticity and strength of blood vessels; helps to lower blood pressure and improve circulation. When you exercise to build a healthy heart you are also supporting the health of your brain. 

Manage Stress. Stress elevates hormones in the body that increase inflammation which, over time, contributes to illness. Meditation, yoga, and mindful walking are stress management activities that put a damper on stress hormones and support the health of the heart, brain and body.

Smart Food. As we age, our bodies can become less efficient at digesting food and absorbing nutrients. Exercising and choosing nutrient-rich foods helps maintain healthy digestive processes, and provides the fuel the brain, heart and body need to maintain vital health. 

There are many other heart-healthy strategies you can use to support brain health. These include maintaining a sleep routine for adequate rest; reducing your intake of caffeine, processed foods, sugars, and alcohol; and of course, not smoking. 

Remember, the disease process that leads to Alzheimer’s evolves slowly, over as many as ten to twenty years! But the onset of dementia and AD can feel sudden because of the way it robs people of their vitality, memories, and quality of life. You have so many years ahead of you to take care of your heart and your brain...why not start today so that you can have a fitter, healthier future in your Golden Years!

Supporting Healthy Minds and Bodies at Everbrook Senior Living

From delicious, nutritious food to wellness and fitness activities to meet a wide variety of interests and needs, Everbrook Senior Living boasts a wide array of health and wellness solutions for every stage of life. Our cutting-edge wellness activities help participants achieve improvements in cardiovascular fitness, strength, and balance. These outcomes help residence reduce risk of injury from falls and risk for cardiovascular disease. 

The Wellness 4 Later Life program embodies the seven dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, social, intellectual, vocational, spiritual and environmental. Our highly experienced team of professional nurses, physiologists, therapists, and instructors delivers a customized, safe, and fun exercise program for each of our older adults. Enrichment activities help round out the needs of each resident, through activities that build community, strengthen cognitive skills, and support emotional wellbeing. 

Sources

CDC.com “Brain Health is Connected to Heart Health” Accessed 18 Jan 2022:https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/brain_health.htm

Natural Healing: Prevent Illness and Improve Your Life. The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (2017). (print)

TED Radio Hour. "Lisa Genova: Can Alzheimer's Disease be Prevented?" Accessed 10 Apr 2018:https://www.npr.org/2017/07/21/537016132/lisa-genova-can-alzheimers-disease-be-prevented 

NIA.NIH.gov "What Causes Alzheimer's Disease?" Accessed 10 Apr 2018:https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-causes-alzheimers-disease

Smith G.E., "Healthy Cognitive Function and Dementia Prevention." Am Psychol. (2016, May-June). 71:4, 268-275. Accessed 9 Apr  2018:http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/amp/71/4/268/ 

Healthy Aging and Prevention: Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Emory University.http://alzheimers.emory.edu/healthy_aging/index.html 

 

 

Published in Health & Wellness
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