Ten Easy Ways to Stay Sharp

You’ve been saving for retirement for as long as you can remember. After all, the last thing you want is to find yourself challenged financially at the beginning of what might be the greatest chapter of your life, the time when you finally get to travel, golf, fish, and read all of the books you’ve been waiting to get to. Your finances might be in good shape and ready for the adventure that is to come – but is your brain? Have you been doing all you can take make sure your brain is healthy in your later years?

Here are 10 simple maneuvers that go a long way toward increasing the odds that your brain is healthy and sharp when the long-awaited “me time” comes.

Get fit

Studies show that you may be able to cut your risk of Alzheimer’s disease in half
with moderate-intensity exercise. Strive for 150 minutes per week of cardio, and add
strength training. For those over 65, two to three strength-building sessions per week may
reduce the risk of cognitive decline by half.

Be social

Staying socially engaged may protect against dementia later, studies show.
Connect with people, volunteer, join a club or social group. Get out and enjoy leisure-time
activity with others. Make time for friends and family. It could benet you more than you

Eat healthily

Inflammation caused by a diet high in trans fats and sugar is damaging to
brain cells. Cut down on both of those and choose a diet with lots of vegetables, beans,
whole grains and fish. Consider adding green tea to your daily routine. It may improve
mental alertness and slow brain aging.

Work out your brain

Learn something new every day. Study a foreign language or learn
to play a musical instrument. Do crossword puzzles and play number or word games.

Stock up on your sleep

Most adults need eight hours of sleep but many don’t even get close to that. Prioritize sleep. Get in bed early and put away electronic devices. If your family tells you that you snore, get checked for sleep apnea.

Reduce stress

Stress is a major threat to brain health and can actually cause shrinkage of
the memory center in the brain. Tackle stress by incorporating healthy habits into your daily routine — breathe, pray, meditate, reflect. Make fun a priority. Laugh.

Stop smoking

Research shows smoking increases the risk of dementia by as much as 80
percent. When you quit, the circulation to your brain will improve immediately. This one is a no-brainer.

Control blood pressure and cholesterol

Maintaining blood pressure in the normal range and keeping cholesterol in check keeps the blood supply to the brain as healthy as possible.

Shed extra pounds

Extra weight is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Research shows that people who are overweight are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s later in life, and those who were obese had three times the risk. Time to get fit and trim.

Drink only in moderation

While it may be true that a glass of red wine a day has some positive eeffects on the brain, heavy alcohol consumption can markedly raise Alzheimer’s risk and accelerate brain aging.

Keep all of these in mind each day, and you will be sure to put your retirement savings to excellent use for a long time to come.

For more info about Dr. Wilson and the Charleston Healthspan Institute, visit www.charlestonhealthspan.com.


Photo by Caleb Jones

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