Exercise Your Brain

Exercise Your Brain
Columbia University Medical Center has identified a brain network within the frontal lobe that is associated with cognitive reserve. Cognitive reserve means that these brain cells can compensate and aid individuals in maintaining function despite brain function decline due to Alzheimer’s disease. This finding provides a clue to an important and common strategy: Increase your levels of cognitive reserve.

To build up your reservoir of brain cells:
  • Practice mentally-stimulating activities daily like take a class, work on a hobby, learn new dance steps or practice new physical fitness moves. Exercise your brain!
  • Get creative and release your inner non-conformist. Non-conformists and people who express themselves naturally create cognitive reserve. You don’t have to always cross your t’s.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables; fish, healthy fat like olive oil, and lean protein. The brain needs to be fed a healthy diet. In a recent study women who lost weight unintentionally were at a greater risk of getting Alzheimer’s Disease – in fact, undesired weight loss is often a predictor.
  • Don’t smoke because smoking damages the cardiovascular system and hardens the arteries which affect the brain. Smokers are more likely to get Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Manage your stress. Stress hormones set off an inflammatory process that doesn’t just inflame your spirit, but your organs as well, specifically the cardiovascular system. Remember that head and heart are related.
It’s never too early to set up for the golden years. Building a cognitive reserve begins during youth and deposits are made throughout the years. As you age, keep growing intellectually and spiritually. Even if it is harder to remember new information, keep reinforcing and learning. Review, write notes or highlight information. Everyone has a different approach to studying and learns through sound, visual cues, or motor coordination. The good news: Analysis actually improves with age! It’s not all those brain tests you keep taking that sharpens your brain. Rather, it’s learning and studying which improves the mind.

Many Alzheimer’s patients do better than expected because of their cognitive reserve. While there is currently no cure, postponement and alleviating symptoms are a close second.

For more information about cognitive reserve and the role it plays in prevention or slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s click here to read an interview with Dr. Yaakov Stern in InVivo, the Columbia University Medical Center newsletter

For more information on caregiving please read my book, Changing Habits - The Caregivers' Total Workout, in particular Chapter 6 - What Is The Condition of Your House, Chapter 7 - The Difference Between Passion and Compulsion. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show

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