Lifestyle Choices - 'Top 10 Rules'

Everyone loves “top 10” lists. Here’s one your brain will love. Studies show that certain practical steps may increase the chances for successful aging. Add some common sense, and this dynamic combination—practical steps and common sense—may help reduce your risk for intellectual decline as you age.

  1. Use your brain for your whole life. Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ.
  2. Do not become a couch potato. Obesity, inactivity and poor health are bad for your brain.
  3. Exercise until the day you die. People who exercise on a regular basis have better physical and intellectual life.
  4. Do not keep a spare tire. Obesity around the beltline in middle life can be bad for your brain in later life.
  5. Protect your heart and blood vessels. Your brain needs adequate oxygen and nutrients to stay well.
  6. Treat your hypertension as a young person to help keep your memories as an older person. Untreated hypertension damages blood vessels to the brain.
  7. Take a standard vitamin on a daily basis. A B-complex vitamin and folic acid are helpful.
  8. Treat depression, since this may improve your physical and intellectual health.
  9. Avoid gluttony with food and alcohol. Excessive alcohol and elevated cholesterol or triglycerides are bad for the brain.
  10. Find a good doctor and follow his or her advice. Smart doctors and wonder drugs are not beneficial when the advice and the medication sit in the medicine cabinet.
Contributed by Richard E. Powers, M.D., chairman of our sister organization, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s Medical Advisory Board, an associate professor in the departments of neurology, pathology and psychiatry at the University of Alabama (UAB) at Birmingham, and chief of the Bureau of Geriatric Psychiatry, Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation for the State of Alabama.

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