As well as all the risks we already know about – heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, obesity – it seems a laid-back, lazy lifestyle could also damage your brain health.
A new study of middle aged men and women has found that their physical fitness levels at about age 40 can predict how mentally fit they will be at age 60+. That means the brain volume – or put another way, how much the brain has or hasn’t shrunk.
The study of over 1000 people, by doctors and researchers at Boston University School of Medicine, Mass., concluded that a high blood pressure in middle age is associated with lower brain volume in later life.
Doesn’t this give us yet another compelling reason to ‘Just Do It’?
- There’s a video doing the rounds on social media that shows an experiment done on a street in the US (stay with me here). It’s a blackboard and at the top is written ‘Write Your Biggest Regret?’. Passers by are invited to chalk up their biggest regret and it turns out the main theme of the messages are all about things people didn’t So, with each of these tips, take a chance and get out there. After all, in the immortal words of Dr Pepper – what’s the worst that can happen?
This first idea asks you to get active by taking a dance class – even if you don’t have a partner. It’s a chance to meet people, get a fresh perspective on life, perhaps do something you’ve always wanted, as well as some exercise to great music.
- When you’re not dancing, borrow a dog, find some comfortable walking shoes and get to know your locality a little better. Walking improves your cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure. Aim for half an hour 5 days a week. It doesn’t matter much where you walk – town or country – but try to go fast enough that you get a little out of breath: then you know you’re putting in the right amount of effort to get the right effect.
- Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones’ authoress) wrote a light-hearted spy thriller called ‘Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination’. One of Ms Joules’ rules for living is to remember that ‘No one is thinking about you. They’re thinking about themselves. Just like you.’ This brings us to another idea for getting some exercise.
What’s the most common objection to going swimming? It’s the thought of having to show some flesh. But just remember Olivia Joules’ wisdom and go find your local pool.
- Have you ever watched someone bend down to pick something up from the floor with grace and ease and felt a just little envious? Well why not take the opportunity to improve your flexibility when you find a yoga or Pilates or Yogalates class.
- Another way to get out and see your locality is by bike. Make sure you are visible and safe – helmet, hi-viz vest and lights – and find some good trails or quiet roads that take you off the beaten track.
With any one or any combination of these ideas, you will not only feel better in the short term. You’ll experience better sleep and feel more energetic and energized. But you can also feel confident that you’re investing in your future brain health and that may mean protection from dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s an all-round win-win.
Read more about the study mentioned above at: