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June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, and this is a perfect time to start showing your brain some love.  There is growing evidence that links decreased risk of cognitive decline to important lifestyle habits that help keep the brain healthy.  No matter your age, it is never too early or too late to start taking care of your brain.  Here are a few ways you can take care of the organ that takes care of you.

1. Read a Book: Reading is fundamental.  Whether you are reading a book for fun or information, the benefits to your brain are the same. In fact, formal education at any stage of life helps decrease the risk of cognitive issues later in life.  You may even want to consider taking a free online class or joining a book club.

2. Exercise: Several studies point to the link between cardiovascular exercise and reduced risk of cognitive decline.  The exercise should elevate the heart rate and  increase blood flow to the body and the brain.  According to the Center for Disease Control, a person should engage in at least 1 hour and 15 minutes of high-intensity exercise a week or 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise. 

3. Eat Healthy Foods: Maintaining a diet plan that is full of real, whole food keeps your brain healthy.  Think of your brain and body as an expensive car.  It performs best when it runs on premium fuel.  Your premium fuel is a diet plan consisting of high-quality food full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

4. Get Quality Sleep: Lack of sleep may contribute to the development of issues, such as memory loss.  The goal is to get at least 7 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep every night.

5. Challenge Yourself: Give your brain something to do. Build, create, or solve something.  Activating your brain and helping it stay active may have long and short-term positive benefits to your brain health.  If you are not sure where to start, try solving a cross-word puzzle and go from there. 

6. Take Care of Your Mental Health: Depression and a history of other mental disorders have been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline.  Seek medical treatment if you believe you are experiencing the symptoms of depression or anxiety. Properly managing your stress also helps maintain good mental health. 

7. Socialize: Find ways to engage with other people.  Being socially engaged is vital to a healthy brain. If you are not naturally social, consider joining a local club that is of interest to you.  Look for volunteer opportunities that you are passionate about or participating in a club.

8. Break Bad Habits: If you are a smoker, you are probably aware of many of the risks associated with tobacco and nicotine.  Smoking also increases the risk of cognitive decline.  Choosing to quit smoking may reduce your risk of developing cognitive issues almost to the level of someone who never smoked.

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