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Taking care of your brain health should be a priority throughout the year, but warmer weather brings many opportunities to show your brain some love.  The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation shares the four pillars of fitness that are crucial to promoting brain health.

The first pillar of nutritional fitness includes a good healthy Mediterranean diet filled with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and heart healthy fats. This type of diet promotes vascular health, reduces inflammation and is full of antioxidants. The abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables during the summer months, makes it a perfect time to inspire a brain friendly diet.

Regardless of age, we are all mentally fresher and sharper when we get regular, vigorous physical activity. This is where the second pillar of physical fitness becomes important. According to the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation regular exercise can reduce your risk of cognitive decline and memory loss by up to 50 percent. To see the best benefits of your exercise program, it is recommended that you get 150 minutes per week of a combination of cardio exercise and strength training. The opportunities to get outside and exercise are abundant during the summer months.

The third pillar is stress fitness. Chronic stress can result in inflammation, sleeplessness, and mental health concerns. Finding ways to reduce your stress and promote positive mental health is another important step in loving your brain.  Research has shown yoga, mindfulness, and meditation benefit stress fitness by reducing cognitive decline and perceived stress while increasing overall quality of life. Like physical fitness, warmer weather brings opportunities to connect with nature and reduce stress.

Developing and maintaining strong spiritual connections is the last pillar of brain health. Spiritual fitness by whatever means that works for you will promote a higher level of brain health throughout your entire life.

Building a better memory, preventing Alzheimer’s and memory loss all depend on your lifestyle. Now is the perfect time to jumpstart your brain health and show it the love it deserves.

Writer:

Kathy Tutt, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, tutt.19@osu.edu

Reviewer:

Roseanne Scammahorn, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Darke County, scammahorn.5@osu.edu

References:

     Khalsa, D., & Newberg, A. (2021). Spiritual Fitness: A new dimension in alzheimer’s disease prevention. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease: JAD80(2), 505–519. https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-201433

     Kivipelto, M., Palmer, K., Hoang, T., & Yaffe, K. (2022). Trials and treatments for vascular brain health: Risk factor modification and cognitive outcomes, Stroke, 53(2), 444-456

     Russell-Williams, J., Jaroudi, W., Perich, T., Hoscheidt, S., El Haj, M., & Moustafa, A. (2018). Mindfulness and meditation: treating cognitive impairment and reducing stress in dementia. Reviews in the Neurosciences29(7), 791–804. https://doi.org/10.1515/revneuro-2017-0066

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