Nothing can permanently reverse nature’s clock, but it can certainly be slowed. Research into aging has shown certain habits slow down the natural aging process, both in the brain and in the body.
Most people know the basics of staying healthy. They include a good diet, regular exercise, boosting the immune system and giving your brain a regular workout through activities such as reading, playing games, and walking through new terrain.
However, there are some anti-aging habits that might not get the same amount of attention as others. Each is a small step in the right direction when it comes to battling age-related cognitive decline. They also are habits you could start from the moment you finish reading this.
Drink More Water
On average, men need about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day, while women need 11.5 cups (2.7 liters). Those amounts are needed to replace fluids lost every 24 hours. Studies have shown that about 43% of Americans drink less than half of that, with only 22% drinking the recommended amount of water per day. Water supports a host of bodily functions, including boosting the immune system, regulating digestion and helping with weight loss. It also can help keep your body’s organs healthy, including your skin. An easy way to know if you’re getting enough is if you rarely feel thirsty and if your urine is colorless or a pale yellow.
Stand Up More, Sit Less
Too much sitting can lead to health issues such as weight gain. It also can impact your cognitive health. A group of researchers led by scientists at UCLA found that middle-aged and older adults who stayed sedentary for long periods of time experienced a thinning in the brain’s medial temporal lobe, which helps with memory, critical thinking and information processing. What’s more, this happened even among those who exercised regularly. If you have a job that requires long hours of sitting, keep track of time and remember to get up and move every half hour or so.
Keep a Journal
Many studies have shown that reading improves cognitive health. Writing does the same. A study published in the Journal of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences found that those who journal during their lifetime experienced a 53% reduction in the risk of developing dementia. Researchers concluded that the act of writing, as well as recalling memories and arranging them into words, contributed to strengthening brain function.
Get Good Sleep
With each passing year, more research emerges on the importance of sleep. The National Institutes of Health maintains a frequently updated web page on sleep deprivation and dependency. An analysis of decades of research published in Sleep Medicine found that those who get less sleep have brains that age faster and perform worse on cognitive tests. There are many good habits you can use to promote better sleep at night. You should try for between seven and eight hours of sleep per night.
Contact a Friend
Interaction with your friends not only is enjoyable, but also good for cognitive health. Part of the reason is that being with friends combats loneliness and relieves stress, both of which take a toll on brain function over time. Spending time with others can also lead to a more optimistic outlook, which also has been shown to slow cognitive decline.
While changing your diet and getting more exercise play critical roles in maintaining cognitive health, these five daily habits can also help set you on the right path. And all of them are easy enough to start today.