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Health Information Keeping Your Brain Healthy and Fit

Everyone knows that it's import to get regular physical activity for the body. But did you know that your brain could also use a daily workout to keep it healthy and strong. Many of the things that keep the body in shape also help the brain in good condition as we age.

"We should think of activities as 'brain healthy' in the same way that we consider certain foods and behaviors 'heart healthy,'" says Anthony J. Perry, MD, a specialist in caring for older adults and director of the Johnston R. Bowman Center at Rush.

The brain is a complex organ. That's why it's important to take a multipronged approach to keeping it in tip-top shape.

"The following are all great strategies for keeping your brain healthy," says Perry. "And they provide the added benefit of maintaining your overall health and sense of well-being," Perry says.
 

  • Stay physically active
    • Have a daily routine that keeps you moving, if possible (Of course, check with your doctor first before starting any new exercise program.)
  • Eat well
    • A healthy diet can contribute to a healthy brain
  • Keep your heart and blood vessels healthy
    • Control cholesterol and other blood lipids by exercising, eating a low fat diet and taking your cholesterol-lowering medication as prescribed
    • Control blood pressure by exercising, eating a low fat and low sodium diet and taking your blood pressure-lowering medication as prescribed)
  • Control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes by exercising, eating a healthy diet and taking your medication as prescribed
  • Give your brain a work out by taking part in mentally stimulating activities
  • Participate in life by involving yourself in socially engaging activities

"As with any change, you should start with something manageable," suggests Perry. "Choose something that you'll enjoy, and when it becomes part of your routine add another change. For example, you may want to start a walking group or you might consider doing the crossword puzzle regularly."

Flex Your Mental Muscles
Mentally stimulating activities:
 

  • Reading
  • Taking a class
  • Playing word games
  • Working crossword puzzles
  • Learning a new hobby
  • Memorizing lines from your favorite poem or lines from a famous play
  • Writing letters to friends and loved ones

Get Involved
Socially engaging activities:
 

  • Visiting friends
  • Volunteering
  • Joining a club whose members share your interests
  • Taking a class

Remember, actively caring for your brain can have added benefits for other aspects of your health and well-being -- and can add to the quality of your life.

Dr. Perry will be speaking on this subject on Wednesday, March 22, 2006, at 10:30 a.m. at the Searle Conference Center at Rush. He will be joined by a representative of the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Illinois. To register use our Online Registration Form or phone 888 352-RUSH (7874).

More Information at Your Fingertips:

  • For information on a unique membership program for older adults, their loved ones and caregivers visit the Rush Generations page. Or call (800) 757-0202.
  • For information on medical services for older adults at Rush visit the Geriatric Services home page. Or call (800) 757-0202.
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (7874)

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

If you enjoyed this article and are not already a subscriber, subscribe today to Discover Rush Online. You'll receive health information, breaking medical news and helpful tips for maintaining your health each month via e-mail.

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