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Healthy Lifestyle = Healthy Memory

Healthy Lifestyle = Healthy Memory

A new University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) study finds that the prescription to maintain a healthy memory is the same as that to maintain a healthy body: Eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep.

“Our brains are aging just like our bodies,” says Small, director of the UCLA Longevity Center at the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.

“Research shows that the more healthy lifestyle behaviors somebody engages in, the less likely they are to complain about their memory.”

Dr. Small’s team has found that it’s possible to improve our memories through relatively simple strategies and techniques.

“Look, snap, connect,” for example, calls out three essential steps: Focus attention, create a mental snapshot of the information you want to recall later, and make the snapshots meaningful by linking them visually.

While there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Small says maintaining healthy habits can help stave off its symptoms.

“Our programs help people create a lifestyle to bolster brain health,” he says. “They also teach them ways to compensate for the lowered function that naturally occurs with aging.”

Here are a few key factors:

  • Mental stimulation: Research shows that lifelong learning is associated with a lower risk for Alzheimer’s, but the cause-effect relationship hasn’t been proven. “Doing crossword puzzles, you may get better at those puzzles, but it may not transfer to your everyday life,” Dr. Small says.
  • Nutrition: Being overweight doubles one’s risk for Alzheimer’s as does diabetes. Obesity quadruples the risk. Dr. Small says some research has shown that eating five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables daily provides the antioxidants that may retard damage to the brain’s DNA.
  • Exercise: While aerobic exercise and strength training are beneficial, even just brisk walking for 15 minutes daily may lower Alzheimer’s risk, according to some studies. “You don’t have to become a triathlete,” Dr. Small says, “but when you get your heart pumping, you get more nutrients and oxygen to your brain cells.”
  • Social engagement: Social interactions can both lower stress and stimulate the mind. Studies show that 10 minutes of a stimulating conversation is better for cognitive health than watching a TV show.

“The triple threat for Alzheimer’s is going for a walk with a friend,” Dr. Small says.

“You get the cardiovascular conditioning. Being with an empathic person will lower your stress. And having a conversation works out your brain cells.”

Source: UCLA

Healthy Lifestyle = Healthy Memory

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Healthy Lifestyle = Healthy Memory. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 10 Oct 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.