Memory Mondays: Adopt These Lifestyle Habits to Ward Off Cognitive Decline

Want to reduce your risk of cognitive decline? Mix and match these lifestyle habits recommended by the Alzheimer’s Association to give your mind and body a boost. It’s never too late—or too early—to adopt healthy habits and give your brain some TLC.

Incorporate cardio workouts. Research suggests a connection between physical activity and a reduced risk of cognitive decline. So get your heart pumping with cardio workouts to increase blood flow to your brain and throughout your body.

Two joggers along take a path along Lake Michigan in Chicago.
Two joggers take a path along Lake Michigan in Chicago.

Take a class. Formal education can decrease your risk for cognitive decline and dementia. So keep yourself mentally stimulated by taking a class at a local university or even online.

A resident enjoys a book.
A resident enjoys a book.

Put that cigarette out. There’s evidence that smoking ups your risk of cognitive decline. When you quit, your risk lowers to levels similar to those who haven’t smoked.

Monitor your heart health. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke, such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, have been proven to negatively influence your cognitive health. When you take care of your heart, you’re taking care of your brain as a result.

Protect your head. Brain injuries heighten your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. As such, be sure to protect your head, whether that means wearing a helmet when riding a bike, using your seat belt or working to prevent falls.

Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. A low-fat diet with plenty of vegetables and fruit can aide your efforts to reduce your cognitive decline risk. There isn’t much research around diet and its effects on cognitive function, but certain diets may at least contribute to risk reduction.

The Clare residents prepare a healthy snack.
The Clare residents prepare a healthy snack.

Get enough sleep. Your memory and ability to think clearly are directly linked to the amount of sleep you get each night. Do your best to keep a regular sleep schedule.

Manage stress and your mental health. There are existing studies that associate a history of depression with cognitive decline, so it’s crucial to seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of depression or anxiety. It’s also important to adequately manage stress to keep your mind clear.

Stay socially engaged. Participating in social activities supports your brain health, so find ways to be socially engaged that are meaningful to you. That may entail volunteering within your community, or simply doing things with friends and family.

Two adults socialize in downtown Chicago.
Two adults socialize in downtown Chicago.

Challenge yourself. Keep your mind sharp by doing things that challenge you. Work on a jigsaw puzzle, play games like bridge or complete a Sudoku. Challenging your brain in these ways may have both short- and long-term benefits.

The Clare residents play a game of scrabble.
The Clare residents play a game of scrabble.