Willingly or unwillingly, most of us are following a sedentary lifestyle. It is, however, a high-time to realize that long-term inactivity will not only weaken our bones and muscles but it can damage our heart and brain also.
The health of our brain and heart are interdependent. There are plenty of studies that reveal a boost in cardiovascular health contributes to good cognitive health. So, if you want to protect your brain, you need to start protecting your heart.
How is Your Heart Health and Brain Health Interdependent?
It all begins with adequate blood flow. If the heart doesn’t pump blood properly, the blood vessels leading to the brain won’t function properly. And if this happens, the brain won’t get enough of the food, energy, and oxygen that it needs to function.
Failing brain function may lead to impaired memory, lack of concentration, low energy levels, some diseases like dementia, Alzheimer’s, and more.
Though mental decline and changes in brain functions are common with aging, maintaining a healthy heart may boost brain functions in the later years.
Here Are 8 Ways to Keep Your Heart and Brain Young
- Get Physical Exercise
Exercise increases your heart rate which results in increased blood flow and oxygen supply. Physical activities also spur the development of new nerve cells and increase the connection between brain cells.
In simpler words, exercise boosts blood flow to the brain. Walking, dancing, swimming, aerobics not only help you stay fit but also improve your cognitive health.
- Improve Your Diet
Good nutrition helps in the development of your mind as well as body. A diet rich in nutrients and low in saturated fats is likely to keep your brain and heart, healthy throughout your life.
You can include green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, avocados, unsaturated oils (olive oil), plant sources of proteins, in your diet plan. This will prevent the development of cognitive impairment and dementia. Many people follow the Mediterranean style diet that emphasizes the foods mentioned above.
- Improve Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure increases the risks of developing neurodegenerative diseases by impeding blood flow to the brain. When the artery walls are thickened, it becomes difficult to deliver enough blood and oxygen to different organs of the body including the brain.
One of the best ways to keep your blood pressure in check is to exercise regularly. You don’t have to do strenuous work-outs. Brisk walking may help.
- Improve Your Cholesterol
There are two types of cholesterol – good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL). Besides helping you maintain a healthy weight and stave off obesity, exercise is associated with an increase in HDL and a decrease in LDL.
High levels of LDL increase the risk of dementia in old age. So, if you want your brain to be young for a longer time, you need to introduce some positive changes in your routine. Are you ready?
- Take Care of Your Emotional Health
According to a biological study, the heart-strings can sometimes break after a deep emotional trauma, causing the heart to lose form and as a result, it is unable to pump blood effectively.
This is why maintaining good emotional health is necessary. It has also been found that people who suffer from depression, insomnia or anxiety score poorly on cognitive function tests
A few minutes of meditation or light physical exercise will help you lighten your mood and bring you joy.
- Take a Few Minutes to Meditate
Believe it or not, 5-10 minutes of meditation will calm your mind and body. Meditation has been proven to show reduced signs of anxiety, stress, confusion, and fatigue.
Mindfulness is a technique where our thoughts tune into whatever we sense in the present moment rather than visiting the past or imagining the future. Practice it daily for 5-10 minutes and you will observe the changes within you, around you.
- Don’t Abuse Alcohol
Though moderate alcohol consumption may provide some health benefits, in any sense, it is not recommended that people who do not take alcohol start drinking for any reason.
If you are an active drinker, it is recommended that you limit yourself to 1-2 drinks per day. It is because excessive drinking is one of the major risk factors for dementia.
- Say No to Tobacco
Tobacco is injurious to health. Avoid it in all its form.
So, these were a few tips on how to keep your brain and heart healthy and active.
Is There a Right Time to Start Caring for Your Heart and Brain?
Any time is the best time to start caring for your body. The good news is that it’s never too late to start. No matter your age, you can start exercising to get into shape or to boost your health.
Besides offering rewards for your heart and brain, exercise:
- Boosts your mood and energy
- Prevents injuries
- Lowers risks of neurodegenerative diseases, heart attacks, and other diseases associated with aging
Ease Into Your Routine
Besides staying active physically, stay active emotionally, intellectually, and socially. Because the whole point is to lead a life full of excitement and joy. Isn’t it?
You can read books, pursue a hobby(ies), listen to music, talk to friends, watch movies or more. Live your life to the fullest and your heart and brain shall be taken care of. When you connect yourself with people or things you love, you are less likely to get depressed. And thus, less prone to brain damage. And you already know that a healthy brain signifies a healthy heart! Don’t you?
Let me offer you a few subtle tips to ingrain physical activities into your daily life.
- Don’t use elevators; climb stairs.
- Take 15 minutes of brisk walk every day.
- Do squats at work (in free time, of course).
- Park your vehicle farther away from your office so that you log a few extra steps.
After all, any exertion is better than none. If I have missed any tips, let me know in the comments section. I hope this article was helpful to you.