A new study revealed that the condition of your blood vessels may determine a good portion of your brain’s health. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh found that a number of factors—smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes—may have a negative effect on not only your vascular health, but your brain as well.
Luckily, healthcare professionals have compiled a list of tips that are geared towards improving physical health, brain health, and even your cognitive abilities.
There’s no denying that having a healthy exercise routine is key for overall health. But for many adults with office jobs, the idea of working out after work seems like an impossible one. But healthcare providers stand firm: adults should aim for 150 minutes or more of aerobic exercise each week. But worry not if you’ve been slacking on your steps recently; studies have shown that sedentary older adults who made a new habit of walking regularly for one year showed significant improvements in memory performance that also related to growth of memory areas of the brain.
Once you’ve gotten an aerobic routine in place, providers recommended incorporating weights as well. Participating in strength training at least twice a week combined with aerobic workouts has been shown time and time again to improve heart health, which is directly linked to keeping your brain up to snuff as well.
Eat a Heart Healthy Diet
Cutting back on perennial favorites like take out, deli meat, and cheese can be hard, but those yummy foods are also some of the highest sources of sodium, which can drive up blood pressure. Instead snack on brain-boosting foods like blueberries, nuts, and fatty fish. Additionally, incorporating non-starch vegetables and whole-grains is a good way to maintain a healthy weight and keep blood sugar stable—all contributing factors to brain health.
Be More Mindful
Mental health’s relationship to overall health has come under close scrutiny in recent years. Things like anxiety and stress can wreak havoc on your mind, which in turn can negatively affect more physical aspects of your life. Taking steps to find the right stress-relief for you—a long walk, a hot bath, a cup of tea, a talk with a friend—can help keep your mental health stable as well.
Poor or inadequate sleep is often associated with worsening health and vascular risk factors—including high blood pressure and weight gain. Getting the adequate amount of sleep helps memory development; a lack of quality sleep puts strain on the brain and can drastically impact your physical and mental health. Healthcare professionals recommend establishing a settled sleep and wake-up time to get the best quality of sleep possible.
Pick Your Brain
Keeping up your cognitive activity levels is a key component to brain health. Attending a book club, taking a cooking class, doing puzzles like the daily crossword or Sudoku, are all activities that keep your neurons active and healthy. Establishing these habits at a young age can help stave off memory loss and depression so often associated with aging.
Keep An Eye on Blood Pressure
Blood pressure should be checked regularly, at least once every six months. If there are signs of a slow, creeping increase, it may be time to talk to your general physician. High blood pressure is now defined as blood pressure greater than 130/90.
A healthy lifestyle can help you prevent not only vascular risk factors, but brain health ones as well.