The Connection Between Heart and Brain Health

Posted by Meghan Orner on February 24, 2017

The Connection Between Heart and Brain Health

There’s no denying that the mind is a powerful tool. Even as early as 19 B.C., the phrase “mind over matter” was used to describe how one’s willpower can overcome physical obstacles. But when it comes to your overall health and well-being, you should not think of the mind as being separate from the body.

That’s because an increasing amount of research has shown that your mental health and physical health correlate with one another, meaning that if one prospers or weakens, so does the other. In fact, one recent study published in the “Journal of the American Heart Association” actually found that a healthy heart may be one of the key ways to prevent age-related cognitive decline.

A Senior Health Study With Surprising Results

In order to determine if there was any link between maintaining heart health and preventing cognitive decline in seniors, researchers tested the memory, thinking and brain processing speed of 1,033 men and women with an average age of 72. They then compared those test results with the heart-healthy habits of each participant, including:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Staying physically active
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Avoiding tobacco use
  • Monitoring blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels

Six years later, participants received the same cognitive tests, with the results showing that those who displayed more heart-healthy habits had a higher brain processing speed when compared to those participants who had not. In addition, not only did those habits lower participants’ risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke, but they also led to less cognitive decline over time.

A final discovery made by the researchers was that not all of the heart-healthy habits needed to be achieved in order to boost cognitive function. According to the study author Hannah Gardener, none of the participants reached the targets for all of the habits, yet they still saw positive results from the cognitive tests. This means that incorporating even just a few heart-healthy habits into your daily routine can go a long way in preventing cognitive decline and improving your overall health.

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Preventing Cognitive Decline With Heart-Healthy Habits

While it is normal to experience some form of cognitive decline as you age, this study proves that this decline does not have to be inevitable. There are plenty of simple activities you can do on a daily basis that will not only promote both your heart and brain health, but will also help you maintain an independent lifestyle longer:

1. Exercise. Not only does it decrease the risk of heart disease, but another recent study found that exercise also helps improve memory, sleep and energy levels. Be sure to include a variety of exercises in your routine, including both aerobic activities and strength training, to keep both your mind and body strong.

2. Eating healthy. There’s no denying that food has a direct impact on senior health, but did you know that it’s possible to eat your way to a better brain? By including brain-healthy superfoods in your diet, you can improve your cognitive function and memory skills, all while lowering your risk of heart disease.

3. Practicing deep breathing techniques. Experiencing frequent stress puts a strain on your heart, and chronic stress damages your memory and can even lead to premature cognitive decline. Luckily, doing simple breathing techniques like the ones you do during yoga or tai chi will help lower your risk of these health threats.

4. Volunteer. Giving back is not only one of the best ways to help those in need, but you’ll also be promoting your own health in the process. According to a recent study, those who volunteer experience fewer symptoms of depression, fewer functional limitations, longer life expectancy and better overall health. All it takes is two or three hours of your time each week to reap these benefits and make a difference in someone’s life.  

Promoting Senior Health & Safety At Home

In addition to these heart-healthy habits, another way to remain healthy as you age is with a Medical Guardian medical alert device. Should you ever experience a fall, medical emergency, house fire, power outage or armed invasion, our 24/7 monitoring center will send help directly to you.


TAGS: heart-healthy habits cognitive decline