Your Brain Matters

The Power of Prevention

When we talk about being strong, fit and healthy, we automatically think about our bodies from the neck down, overlooking one of the most important sites; our brain!

Regular exercise increases blood flow to the brain, stimulating brain cell growth and strengthening the connections between the cells; making your brain strong! Strong brains reduce the likelihood of dementia or Alzheimer’s onset, which is what Your Brain Matters is all about.

“Your brain is your most valuable health asset. You need to protect it all your life.”

It takes only 5 simple steps to maximise your brain health—and because you already exercise at Health Mates your one step ahead!

1. Look after your heart

Heart health and brain health are directly linked; what’s good for your heart is good for your head. The risk of dementia seems to be increased as a result of conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels, particularly around mid life. They include things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type II Diabetes and obesity. Lack of, or ineffective treatment for these conditions hurts the blood vessels in your brain, obstructing brain function and how effective you can think.

2. Do physical activity

There is strong evidence to suggest that regular physical activity is associated with better brain function and reduced risk of cognitive decline. Research is still being conducted on how much exercise we need per week to keep away dementia and Alzheimer’s, but guidelines at present recommend you accumulate 2.5—5 hours of moderate intensity exercise per week, focusing on cardiovascular work, with an additional 2 days of muscle work. It’s also a great idea to minimise the time you sit each day.

3. Mentally challenge your brain

Challenging your brain with new activities helps to build new brain cells by making the brain work. We always tend to do things the way we have always done, but by changing your methods (much like you change your exercise program every 6-8 weeks) you grow your brain strength.

4. Following a healthy diet

The brain needs nutrients to work properly. Evidence suggests that a healthy, balanced diet may help in maintaining brain health and function. Research is still underway, but early results suggest those with a diet high in saturated fats have been associated with dementia, so what you are eating could be affecting your brain.

Alcohol consumed in large quantities has been linked to those who develop dementia; there is a certain type of dementia which is directly linked to excessive drinking over a period of years.

5. Enjoy social activity

Brain health needs you to be social with others! Being social is shown to make the brain function better; not to mention helping to reduce depression and other conditions relating to mental health. Plus it’s fun to be with others!

“Always protect your head. No matter what your age your head needs to be protected… serious trauma can increase your risk of dementia.” When you are riding a bike, playing a contact sport or working on a jobsite, you should wear a helmet.

How strong is your brain? For your copy of the Brain Health Checklist see Health Mates reception.

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