The brainy New Year’s resolution!

Monday 29 December 2014

In what Alzheimer’s Australia is describing as the brainy New Year’s resolution Graeme Samuel, National President Alzheimer’s Australia is encouraging Australians to take 5 simple steps to maximise their brain health in 2015.

“These include looking after your heart, being physically active, challenging your brain, eating healthily and enjoying social activity. All these behaviours not only have a significant impact on your risk of developing dementia, but also impact on other chronic diseases,” Mr Samuel said.  

“People at any age can modify these lifestyle factors to lower their risk of dementia. It’s never too late to start, and what better time to start than at the beginning of 2015.”

CEO Alzheimer’s Australia, Carol Bennett said: “Research suggests that up to half the cases of Alzheimer’s disease worldwide are potentially attributable to health and lifestyle factors. It’s important that Australians think about whether looking after their brain matters, and recognise that they can make positive modifications to their lifestyles that can impact on their risk of dementia.”
 
Here are the five tips to help you start the New Year with a brain-healthy lifestyle: 
1.    Look after your heart – what’s good for your heart is good for your brain
The risk of developing dementia appears to increase as a result of conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels, particularly when these occur at mid-life. 
2.    Be physically active – exercise gives the brain a healthy boost
Regular physical exercise is associated with better brain function and reduced risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Follow the National Physical Activity Guidelines by building up at least 30 minutes of moderate – intensity physical activity on most – but preferably all – days.
3.    Mentally challenge your brain – the brain likes to tackle something it doesn’t know
Scientists have found that challenging the brain with new activities helps to build new brain cells and strengthen connections between them. The brain benefits by having to tackle something it doesn’t know. 
4.    Follow a healthy diet – what you eat could affect the brain
Evidence suggests that a healthy, balanced diet may help in maintaining brain health and functionality but more research is needed to understand if there are specific foods that may be able to reduce the risk of dementia. Follow the National Dietary Guidelines.
5.    Enjoy social activity – socialising is good for the brain
Social engagement has been found to have benefits for other health factors related to cognitive functioning such as vascular conditions and depression. It is mentally stimulating and may contribute to building brain reserve which then contributes to a lower dementia risk. 

You can download the free brain health app, BrainyApp, available on Apple and Android devices. 

For more tips about brain health, how to reduce your risk of dementia, visit yourbrainmatters.org.au