Remember these five ways to preserve your memory
Want to cut the odds of suffering from memory loss? Remember to follow some easy, daily habits.
A new article on Time.com, “9 Easy Ways to Boost Your Recall Now – And Later,” suggests hitting the gym and prioritizing sleep as ways to keep your mind sharp. These and other simple exercises can help maintain your recall ability, according to said neurologist Dr. Karen Lynch of Neurologists of Cape Cod.
“When I think about memory strategies, I focus on lifestyle factors,” she says. “Physical activity, cognitive activity, social activity, nutrition and sleep are areas people have a lot of control over.” While talk of supplements and other shortcuts get some attention, lifelong habits have more proven effects, she said.
- Physical activity: Dr. Lynch recommends 30 minutes day of moderate aerobic activity, like brisk walking. “There’s a lot of evidence showing it helps people retain cognitive functions,” she says. “Being active also has great benefits in improving cardiovascular health and reducing high cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension.”
- Cognitive activity: Taking part in games and learning new skills, is another key habit, according to Dr. Lynch This is an easy one to do your own, whether it’s doing crossword puzzles or taking an online course. Game night with family or friends, or taking lessons at a night school or arts center, are also helpful.
- Social activity: “Here on the Cape we have so many options, including exercise classes, which give you the benefit of both physical and social activity,” she says. “Even patients with some memory loss tend to have less depression and slower decline when they’re socially active.”
- Nutrition: “The evidence is quite robust in supporting the lifelong effect of nutrition on preserving your memory,” Dr. Lynch says. It comes down to following the basic rules of healthy eating. “There are lots of trials testing supplements going on here and in Finland, among other places, and they’re targeting bee pollen, antioxidants and other supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids are the most promising and have shown the most robust effects on preserving memory. Taking lots of vitamins probably doesn’t have a great effect,” she says. Moderate alcohol use may have a protective effect, but on the flip side, excess drinking leads to an increased risk of memory loss, she adds.
- Sleep: “We see how children’s IQ and academic performance is affected by bad sleep. The same is true for adults with disturbed sleep,” Dr. Lynch says. She recommends seven hours of sleep per night for adults. For some helpful tips on how to improve your sleep habits, Dr. Lynch recommends an article on the Huffington Post web site, “How I Get Enough Sleep to Maintain a Healthy, Productive Life.”