Lifestyle Factors Can Help Support Brain Health as We Age
A combination of healthy lifestyle behaviors may hold the key to supporting optimal brain health and happiness as we age, studies suggest.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA) points to five healthy lifestyle factors that have important health benefits. They are:
- Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.
- Don’t smoke. Even long-time smokers who are 60 years or older can improve their health by quitting.
- Maintain light-to-moderate alcohol consumption.
- Consume a high-quality, plant-based Mediterranean-style diet.
- Engage in late-life cognitive activities and stay intellectually active.
Long-term observational studies have found a 60 percent lower risk of cognitive decline reported better brain health among those who engage in at least four of the five healthy behaviors, according to the NIA.
Other health groups echo the need to engage in multiple healthy behaviors to support brain health and wellbeing. The UK National Health Service, for example, recommends five steps that can help you feel more positive and able to get the most out of life. They are:
- Connect with other people: Good relationships can provide you with support and allow you to support others, as well as give you a sense of belonging and self-worth.
- Be physically active: Exercise is great for your physical health and can cause chemical changes in your brain that can help to support a positive mood.
- Learn new skills: Life-long learning can improve your self-confidence, as well as allow you to connect with others, and give you a sense of purpose.
- Give to others: This can create positive feelings and a sense of self-worth, as well as connection with other people.
- Pay attention to the present moment: Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more and positively change how you approach challenges.