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Keeping our brains healthy

Posted September 17, 2014 in Altoona, Advice Column, Ankeny, Pleasant Hill

We talked last month about the six pillars of a brain-healthy lifestyle and, as we age, how important it is to know what they are and to be pro-active in choices we make. Just like any other part of your body, your brain needs to be cared for.

Those pillars are:
• Regular exercise
• Healthy diet
• Mental stimulation
• Quality sleep
• Stress management
• Active social life

Let’s talk about exercise. Start small. Park at the far end of the grocery store parking lot and walk further, take the steps instead of the elevator, walk around the block a few times.

Once you get moving and are ready to increase your activity, I think it’s important to find something that you enjoy. Like music? Bring music with you on your workout. Do you enjoy dancing? Take an exercise class that focuses around dance movements. Hate to run? Walk at an increased speed, and get your heart rate up. Aim for at least 30 minutes, five times per week. Think of it as your time — you owe this to yourself. If you need a friend to help get you motivated, exercise together and hold each other accountable.

Along with aerobic activity, it’s important to add some strength training to your routine. Moderate levels of weight and resistance training helps you to retain muscle mass. For those older than 65, research has found that adding just two to three strength training sessions per week could help cut your risk of developing Alzheimer’s in half.

So keep your brain, heart and weight healthy by getting your move on.

Next month we’ll discuss how a healthy diet can be good for the brain.

Information provided by Shelly Charter, Valley View Village, 2571 Guthrie Ave., Des Moines, 265-2571.

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