A new study suggests that simple lifestyle changes may delay the onset of or slow down dementia. The researchers found that keeping your brain active through “cognitive training,” controlling your blood pressure, and regular exercise can go a long way in keeping your brain healthy.
CEO emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Alan Leshner, explained, “At least two of those, we know, are good for a whole lot of other things that people do or that they could suffer from. That’s controlling your blood pressure if you have hypertension and engaging in physical exercise.”
The National Institute on Aging requested the assistance of Leshner’s group to research measures that could help prevent or slow down the progression of mild mental decline or Alzheimer’s-like symptoms.
Keith Fargo from the Alzheimer’s Association added, “It’s high time that people are given information about things they can do today to reduce their risk of cognitive decline and possibly dementia. Everyone is worried but you shouldn’t feel helpless. You should take control of your brain health.”
Three areas to improve brain health
The researchers uncovered three main areas that could help promote brain health: Cognitive training, blood pressure, and exercise. Cognitive training refers to structured programs that can help enhance reasoning, problem-solving, and memory. Although this type of brain training hasn’t been proven to prevent or slow down mental decline, Leshner suggests that well-designed trials have demonstrated the long-term positive effects of cognitive training on mental function.
Other evidence has suggested that maintaining healthy blood pressure levels can go a long way in preserving the mind. Once again, this is not absolutely proven, but there is enough evidence to show that it’s a good idea to keep your blood pressure numbers in a healthy range.
Lastly, increasing your physical activity levels has also been proven to delay or slow down the progression of mental decline.
Additional research and trials are required for all three of these measures to better understand how they relate to brain health.
Leshner suggests that even though concrete evidence is lacking to back up these lifestyle habits. people should still follow them because they are generally healthy. Developing other medical conditions can also contribute to mental decline, so keeping yourself healthy can also go a long way in keeping your brain strong.
“They’re good for a whole bunch of other things,” Leshner concluded.