Maybe you’ve taken steps so far this year to get into better physical shape. Perhaps you’ve committed to more cardio workouts, taken on yoga, or decided to build in more strength workouts. Of course, January is traditionally associated with weight loss resolutions as well to help firm up and improve health.
Although the commitment to better physical fitness is important, how about your mental fitness? After all, our brains also need to last us throughout the rest of our lives, and we work them hard! However, cognitive decline (self-reported confusion or memory loss), dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease (which is a form of dementia) are all too common and have a major impact on our brain health.
Brain aging and cognitive decline affect many people in the U.S. and around the globe—just consider these stats:
- Subjective cognitive decline occurs among 11.1% of adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- People who live alone are more likely to experience cognitive decline.
- There are more than 50 million people around the globe living with dementia, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Dementia has an $818 billion economic impact on the U.S. each year, the WHO reports.
- Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia. There are an estimated 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, most of whom are age 65 or older, according to the National Institute on Aging.
- Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease and is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., the Alzheimer’s Association reports.
Course From Harvard Health Addresses Brain Fitness
To help shed light on the importance of brain health and fitness, Harvard Health offers a $30 online Cognitive Fitness course. The course focuses on six basic principles related to better brain health:
1. Eat a plant-based diet that emphasizes fruit, vegetables, and legumes.
2. Exercise regularly. Incorporate both cardio workouts and strength training into your routine.
3. Get enough sleep, which can help with long-term memory.
4. Manage your stress.
5. Nurture social connections. This helps to maintain your cognitive health.
6. Continue to challenge your brain by learning new things.
The course has a 10-module curriculum and is taught by Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD, professor of neurology and an associate dean for clinical and translational research at Harvard Medical School in Boston. He is also chief for the Division of Cognitive Neurology and the director of the Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Also teaching the Harvard Health Cognitive Fitness course is Dr. Leonaura Rhodes, a physician turned author and health writer. She is a content developer and medical writer for Harvard Health Publishing and Belvoir Media Group.
The course includes videos, quizzes, and interactive content. Enrollment provides unlimited access so you can complete and review the course when it’s convenient for you.
A stronger brain in 2021 is just a few clicks away!