Healthy Brain Aging: Strategies to Help Your Brain and Body

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(BPT) - Whether you’ve heard about cognitive health recently in the news or have a loved one who may be showing signs of cognitive decline, it’s natural to worry about how your brain health may change with age. In fact, recent findings from a McKnight Brain Research Foundation (MBRF) survey found that 87% of Americans are concerned about age-related memory loss and a decline in brain function with age.

While the concerns are natural, it's important to understand what cognitive aging is and the changes to expect with age. Many people may not realize that forgetting a colleague or neighbor’s name at the grocery store and not remembering it until you get home isn’t a cause for alarm.

The MBRF recently launched the "Brain Works – Optimize Your Brain Span” campaign to educate the public on what cognitive aging is, as a first step to reducing fear and encouraging everyone to take action to promote healthy brain aging.

From diet to exercise to getting enough sleep, research suggests there are steps people can take to help keep their brains healthy across their lifespan. Yet, only 32% of the MBRF survey respondents said they believe they can take action to help control their brain health as they age compared to 68% who believe they can control their physical health with age.

To reverse that thinking, the Brain Works campaign aims to help people better understand the brain-body connection and encourages everyone to put the same amount of effort into caring for their brains as they do the rest of their bodies.

Tips to Optimize Your Brain Span:

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Taking care of your physical health by getting health screenings as recommended for your age is also important for your cognition. Be sure to manage any chronic health conditions you may have, like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Avoiding or quitting smoking will also help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Feed Your Brain

Eating a healthy and balanced diet that’s rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products can reduce inflammation, the risk of chronic diseases, and help support brain health. For optimal brain health, also stay hydrated, limit alcohol consumption, and reduce your intake of solid fats, sugar, sodium and highly processed foods.

Break a Sweat

Did you know that strengthening your body also helps sharpen your brain? Physical activity has been consistently linked to numerous benefits for brain health and cognition. While any form of exercise is great, and even a walking program is good, aerobic exercise like biking or jogging is particularly beneficial for cognitive health. Aim to get your heart pumping and blood flowing for at least 30 minutes every day — even if you break it up into small bursts.

Ignite Your Intellect

Challenging and activating the mind with activities, like learning a new language, skill or hobby, helps keep your mind sharp. Feeling social? Invite friends over for a game night. Rather spend some time alone? Settle down with a good book or tackle a puzzle.

Find Your Zen

Stress is a natural part of life, but over time, chronic stress can negatively impact the brain. Whether you journal, practice yoga or indulge in a soothing massage, finding effective ways to relieve stress is essential for your brain health and overall well-being.

Keep your Friends Close

Great news for social butterflies! Staying connected with friends, family and your community is also good for your brain. Despite the benefits, only about half of the MBRF survey respondents identified social interaction as a way to promote brain health. Take this as a sign to call an old friend or invite a neighbor to go on a walk. Your brain and body will thank you!

Get Your Z’s

Not getting enough sleep may result in problems with memory and thinking, yet a third of American adults report regularly getting less than the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep. Help protect your brain by getting better sleep.

Learn more about the Brain Works campaign and how to optimize your brain span at: https://mcknightbrain.org/brainworks/.

About the Brain Works Campaign

The McKnight Brain Research Foundation launched the “Brain Works- Optimize Your Brain Span” campaign in March 2024 to educate the public on cognitive aging and to offer tips to help maintain optimum brain health with age. The campaign features information on cognitive aging, including an online hub of tools and resources from the McKnight Brain Research Foundation and other reputable organizations with cognitive health expertise. Visit the resource hub and learn more at: McKnightBrain.org/BrainWorks.

About the McKnight Brain Research Foundation Consumer Survey

The MBRF survey was conducted by Wakefield Research. Responses were solicited from 1,000 nationally representative US adults ages 18+, between December 11th and December 15th, 2023, using an email invitation and an online survey. Data has been weighted.






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