Maintaining a Healthy Brain

Posted by Annie Keough on July 5, 2022


Harvard Health Publishing credits four habits that have the greatest effect on brain health: too much sitting, inadequate sleep, chronic stress, and a lack of socializing. Although these areas have a significant influence on cognitive function, they are also relatively easy to change.

Brain health includes a person’s overall brain functionality in four areas: motor function, cognitive health, emotional function, and tactile function. Some factors of brain health are genetic and cannot be easily controlled. But, many lifestyle and environmental factors can be avoided to prevent poor brain health. To keep the brain sharp and reduce the risk of cognitive decline, follow these tips:

  •      1. Socialize

Isolation and depression are significant factors in cognitive decline and increase your risk of Alzheimer's. Loneliness can lead to brain atrophy, so staying socially active and engaged with the people around you is essential to improve brain health. 

The National Institute on Aging has linked activities like volunteering, visiting friends or family, joining a group focused on hobbies you enjoy or any social interaction that gives you meaning to a reduced risk of dementia and cognitive decline.

     2. Exercise your brain and body

According to Harvard Health Publishing, the average adult sits for nearly six and a half hours per day. Sitting and sedentary behaviors are as bad for the body as they are for the brain, affecting the medial temporal lobe (MTL), a part of the brain involved in memory formation. Those who sit for long periods of time have a thinner MTL region compared to those who were more active throughout the day. 

To remedy this risk and stay more active, set a timer for 30 minutes and make it a habit to get up and walk around the house, do a short exercise, or just stand up and move a little throughout the day. During breaks, you can also develop your neural plasticity (the brain’s ability to change and adapt) by being intellectually active. Read a chapter of a book, learn a quick new skill, or play a game.

  •      3. Manage stress

Short-term stress is a normal and unavoidable part of life, but when that short-term stress becomes chronic, major changes in the brain can occur. Stress can affect memory by shrinking the prefrontal cortex (responsible for learning and memory) and can increase the risk of Alzheimer's and dementia. 

Relaxation techniques like mindfulness and breathing exercise can help your body find its’ “relaxation response,” which is the opposite of a stress response and lowers heart rate and blood pressure and slows breathing. Find more tips to manage stress here

  •      4. Get a good night’s sleep

Nearly one-third of adults don’t get the recommended seven hours of sleep. Poor quality sleep aids in cognitive decline and negatively impacts problem-solving skills, memory, and reasoning. Try getting into bed an hour earlier than you usually do, giving your brain and body time to relax and prepare for sleep. Avoid blue light from phones or laptops and make your room as comfortable as possible. See how to get a good night’s sleep here.

  •      5. Brain-healthy foods

The typical Western diet that most Americans consume contributes to cardiovascular disease risk, which may also lead to faster brain aging. Diets like the Mediterranean diet foster brain health and have been linked to a lower risk of developing dementia. Other diets like MIND, a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets, showed lower rates of Alzheimer’s and slower cognitive decline in those who participated in it.


Wellzesta encourages users to participate in activities that encourage a healthy brain. Wellzesta Life provides events that highlight each dimension of wellness as well as encourage users to create their own independent events.

Wellzesta also stimulates social wellness with the “Groups” feature. Residents can socialize with other community members in groups based on common interests and form meaningful connections.

Click here to learn more about how Wellzesta can help your community.