Many Americans are reluctant to adopt significant lifestyle changes, despite the promise of a healthier life as we age. Recent research into cognitive impairment diseases like Alzheimer’s suggests that we can delay their onset by engaging in enjoyable activities. What’s most exciting is that there are three beneficial activities people would happily adopt without a second thought.
Lifestyle Change 1: Start dancing.
Scientists have recently discovered that dancing is very good therapy. Not just because it exercises the cardiovascular, muscular and skeletal systems; dancing is also an excellent mind exercise. Remembering dance steps and coordinating movement are two demanding cognitive activities that require brainpower. Plus, dancing is powered by social interaction — much like chatting, joking, and even arguing. Those kinds of social interaction help keep your brain healthy.
Exercise can be very powerful therapy. Studies of people in Australia suffering from mild cognitive impairment showed that regular exercise was more beneficial to the brain than taking acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, a commonly prescribed medicine.
Lifestyle Change 2: Exercise your brain.
It’s not just physical exercise that helps the brain stay in shape. Mental exercises such as crossword puzzles and problem solving help brains stay active and can even boost memory retention and reasoning abilities. Many residents of Paradise Valley Estates regularly join the community’s weekly Train Your Brain class. The instructor-led session includes challenging thought exercises as well as group discussion of brain study and mind health information.
Train Your Brain participant Nancy Winser describes the games, trivia contests, map studies and vocabulary exercises as a very enjoyable form of mental gymnastics. “It’s fun to participate with others while doing such things as naming the parts of the human body that have five letters within three minutes, or observing a collection of ten objects for one minute and then trying to name them after they’re no longer visible,” says Nancy.
Lifestyle Change 3: Adjust your diet.
Foods like fresh fruits and vegetables — especially when eaten raw — and whole grains are excellent choices. Another smart choice is to restrict red meat, instead choosing leaner options such as fish and poultry.
One person who works hard to create healthy choices is Dwayne Scott, the executive chef of Paradise Valley Estates. Dwayne joined Paradise Valley Estates as executive chef in 2004 and has helped grow the community’s culinary program into an asset that residents say rivals the highest-rated local restaurants. “We believe in keeping the ingredients fresh and healthy,” he says. “On top of that, we try to mix things up. We incorporate seasonal ingredients, what’s trending, and, sometimes, a specific event theme. Everything culminates in a beautifully presented plate we’re proud to serve.”