What lifestyle choices and daily habits can keep your brain sharp well into old age? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Lawrence Kosick, President and Co-Founder at GetSetUp, on Quora:

As we age, our bodies and brains will change. You may notice you have more trouble remembering things or that it takes longer to complete tasks. These changes are normal, but the great news is there are things you can do to help slow any decline in memory and lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other types of cognitive decline.

1. Exercise

While the exact benefits of exercise on cognitive health are still being researched, there is substantial evidence that physical activity is beneficial to cognitive health. Making exercise part of your routine helps:

  • Improve mood and stress level
  • Increase blood flow to the brain
  • Improve memory
  • Reduce inflammation in the brain
  • Provide a boost to creative thinking

Mix it up with aerobic exercise, resistance training, and yoga to get a full body workout! You could also do something as simple as walking the dog or dancing to your favorite tunes to help you get in the routine of staying active.

2. Eat healthy foods

It’s true: Eating certain foods (and avoiding others) has been shown to slow brain aging by 7.5 years, and lessen the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Try to reduce your intake of high-calorie foods and refined sugar and add these foods to your diet:

  • Vegetables, especially leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collards that contain folate, vitamin E, carotenoids, and flavonoids
  • Blueberries and strawberries which contain antioxidants, that protect cells from free radicals
  • Nuts like almonds, macadamias, and pistachios
  • Use extra-virgin olive oil
  • Cold-water fish like salmon, halibut, mackerel, and tuna that contain omega-3 fatty acids

3. Challenge your mind with new tasks and activities.


You can’t stop the aging process, but you can slow it down. One way to do that is through cognitive stimulation—and one of the best ways to get cognitive stimulation is by doing activities like solving crossword puzzles or math problems, drawing, painting, learning a new language, or even playing strategy games like chess and checkers. These activities help improve your brain’s cognitive reserve and prevent or postpone cognitive decline.

4. Socialize

According to the CDC, people who are socially isolated have a greater risk of developing dementia. Socializing with friends and family can help you live longer, feel happier, and improve your cognitive function. And when you’re feeling down or isolated, going out to meet new people can help you feel better. Join a garden club or book club, participate in you local senior center, and stay in touch with family. Or, if you’re more comfortable socializing at home, try joining a virtual community like the GetSetUp Club.

5. Quit bad habits

This one’s a no-brainer— habits like smoking or alcohol abuse are unhealthy. Really almost anything done to excess can cause you harm in the long-run. It’s important to learn to balance your lifestyle choices to stay healthy. While some choices like quitting smoking may be obvious since there are no health benefits and the risks are cognitive decline, increased risk of dementia, loss of brain volume, and a higher risk of stroke. Other overindulgences like excessive risk taking, eating too much sugar, can also be habits worth looking into improving. For your long-term health, take the challenge and quit today.

Be proactive! Empower yourself by making smart lifestyle choices such as being mentally and physically active, eating a well-balanced diet, and getting enough sleep can help us live longer and better lives. There is still hope for maintaining a healthy brain as we age; we just need to give it the opportunity.

This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.


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