The relationship between physical and mental health is very important and one of my favorite topics. I have posted about it numerous times. I have a history of Alzheimer’s and dementia in my family and want very much to escape the ravages of a brain aging in an unhealthy manner.
Now comes Harvard Medical School with a new study on using everyday habits to keep your memory in good shape.
Music to my ears.
Harvard Healthbeat says:
“Physical fitness and mental fitness go together. People who exercise regularly tend to stay mentally sharp into their 70s, 80s, and beyond. Although the precise “dose” of exercise isn’t known, research suggests that the exercise should be moderate to vigorous and regular. Examples of moderate exercise include brisk walking, stationary bicycling, water aerobics, and competitive table tennis. Vigorous activities include jogging, high impact aerobic dancing, square dancing, and tennis.
“Exercise helps memory in several ways. It reduces the risk of developing several potentially memory-robbing conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Exercise is good for the lungs, and people who have good lung function send more oxygen to their brains. There is some evidence that exercise helps build new connections between brain cells and improves communication between them. Finally, exercise has been linked to increased production of neurotrophins, substances that nourish brain cells and help protect them against damage from stroke and other injuries.
“Here are some ways to build physical activity into your daily routine:
• Walk instead of driving when possible.
• Set aside time each day for exercise. For extra motivation, ask your spouse or a friend to join you.
• Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
• Plant a garden and tend it.
• Take an exercise class or join a health club.
• Swim regularly, if you have access to a pool or beach.
• Learn a sport that requires modest physical exertion, such as tennis.
“Mediterranean-type diets highlight whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats from fish, nuts, and healthy oils. This eating style helps promote heart health and may also lessen the risk of memory and thinking problems later in life. In a study that followed more than 2,000 people over four years, those who most closely followed a Mediterranean-type diet had a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. A later study suggested that following a Mediterranean-type diet could slow the conversion of mild cognitive impairment into full-blown dementia.
“The types of fat that predominate in the diet also seem to affect memory. As part of the national Women’s Health Initiative, 482 women ages 60 and older were observed for three years. They reported on their diets, and researchers tested their memory and thinking skills at the beginning of the study and at the end. Those who ate more unsaturated fat (which is abundant in vegetable oils and fatty fish) and less saturated fat (from red meat and full-fat dairy foods) had significantly less decline in memory than those who ate relatively little unsaturated fat.
“Eating several servings of fruits and vegetables can also protect memory. Foods from plants are chock full of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that may protect against age-related deterioration throughout the body.
You can purchase the Harvard report here.
Here are links to some of my previous blog posts on the subject:
You can start with my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits)
Exercise, Aging and the Brain, The Mayo Clinic on Exercise and Computer Use Helping Memory, Omega-3 Fatty Acids Help Memory, Memory Loss is Not Inevitable for Seniors, Can Exercise Protect the Brain from Fatty Food Damage,
Can Exercise Help Me Learn and finally, What Are Some Cognitive Challenges for Senior Citizens?