The Time To Take Control of Your Long-Term Brain Health Is Now
As mentioned in the previous post on How Leaders Can Maintain Cognitive Functions and Memory, there are six key ways each of us can reduce the impact of the natural brain-aging process.
Unfortunately, the extent to which scientists can pinpoint the contribution of any specific lifestyle factor (physical activity, diet, sleep, social interactions, general activity levels, etc.) to brain health remains limited. So there is no number one factor to pursue. You have to make a proactive commitment to a lifestyle that incorporates many of these factors.
And there are many highly modifiable lifestyle factors to choose from that can have far-reaching effects on brain health. These include obesity, physical inactivity, excessive television watching or Internet browsing, chronic stress, high blood pressure, poor nutritional intake, and inadequate sleep.
The good news is that lifestyle changes have proven to work, for both brain and body health. A large study of more than 21,000 American adults aged over 65 found that the prevalence of dementia had fallen by 25% over the 12-year period 2000 to 2012. In their paper presenting these findings, the researchers suggested this decrease may be due to increases in education and better control of risk factors for high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Studies such as this provide some optimism — and clearly defined roadmaps — for taking charge of brain health through the use of tools, techniques, and general lifestyle choices that are likely to improve mental function, strengthen heart health, and reduce the occurrences and impact of elevated and chronic stress.
Brain health is something that everyone, especially leaders, needs to pay attention to today. Brain health is not something to start thinking about once you retire, or once you hit a certain age level. Remember, it is the trifecta of mid-life curses — high blood pressure, obesity, and physical inactivity — that increases the risk of dementia in later life.
For more information on this important topic, please see the earlier posts in this series on brain health and its impact on leadership and decision making:
This article is partially excerpted from my award-winning book Better Decisions Better Thinking Better Outcomes: How to go from Mind Full to Mindful Leadership, available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. The book is the recipient of a Silver Award from the Nonfiction Authors Association for bringing “a comprehensive plan of action for improving life through recognizing decision-making patterns that don’t serve us well, don’t enrich our lives, and don’t bring us to our goals and dreams.” It also received a Distinguished Favorite Award in the 2019 Independent Press Awards leadership category.