Dance away dementia

Posted on: 05 June 2018 by 50connect editorial

Laugh, sleep, dance and socialise your way to a happier and healthier brain

dementia social activity

Whilst dementia is a very serious subject, there are many fun tweaks that can be incorporated into everyday life to help reduce the risk of developing the disease in the future.

Re:Cognition Health is a pioneering brain and mind clinic dedicated to changing the future for individuals living with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. The esteemed international team urge individuals to take control of their health at an early age in order to limit their vulnerability of developing the disease in later life.

Consultant Neuroradiologist and CEO at Re:Cognition Health comments, “Whilst rapid progress is being made into finding treatments to delay and halt the progression of dementia, prevention is better than cure. We encourage individuals to take control of their health in early life, making healthy lifestyle habits and diet choices in to help protect against, or reduce the risk of, developing cognitive impairment and diseases such as dementia.”

Re:Cognition Health’s esteemed team of internationally recognised consultants share their tips on laughing, sleeping, dancing and socialising to help safeguard against developing dementia in the future:

Laugh out loud

Dr Dimitrios Paschos, Consultant Psychiatrist at Re:Cognition Health encourages people to laugh more, “Laughter increases the intake of air, stimulates blood circulation and makes the brain release endorphins, the natural painkillers. In the long term, it improves mood, lessens stress and helps us connect with other people. The more we laugh, the more our brain is engage, helping to grow more brain cells and also may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Task: 20 mins of fun laughter every day!

Dance away dementia

Dr Jo Rodda, Consultant Cognitive Psychiatrist at Re:Cognition Health encourages individuals to dance for dementia prevention. “Studies have shown that the occurrence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can be reduced by exercises like dancing. Not only is it fun, social and engaging but it’s a great way of incorporating exercise into the weekly routine. Learning and remembering new steps activates many neural pathways in the brain, keeping it strong, active and healthy.

“Exercise provides good blood flow to the brain and is also thought to encourage brain cell growth and survival, so essential in helping protect against developing dementia.”

Exercise vigorously three times a week for 20 minutes (very easy to fit into a weekly routing) or moderately five times a week for 40 minutes to help reduce the risk. Switch one or two of your weekly workouts to dancing for optimal cognitive benefits.

Task: Add a twice weekly dance class into your exercise regime, learning new routines, raising the heart rate and simply having fun.

Stay socially active in later life

Get social

“Socialising and maintaining friendships help to reduce anxiety and depression and improve cognitive sharpness and performance at every stage of life and can also help reduce the risk of dementia,” says Dr Emer MacSweeney.

A 2007 study published in in the American Journal of Public Health looked at over 2200 women in the US, finding that older women with large social networks were 26% less likely to develop dementia than those with smaller social networks.

Task: Engage with people on a daily basis, call friends (rather than just message), go out for lunch with colleagues or meet with friends and family once or twice a week (also good for adding laughter!!)

Get musical

The benefits of learning to play a musical instrument in younger life are numerous and continuing this interest in later life has been shown to improve cognitive performance and memory. A recent study, conducted on 157 pairs of twins found that learning a musical instrument, for the first time, in adult life can also help to reduce the risk of dementia.

“Playing a musical instrument builds confidence, relieves stress, fosters creativity and gives a sense of achievement and satisfaction – all of which will in turn help keep the brain young and active, helping to reduce the risk of dementia,” says Dr MacSweeney.

Task: Take up a musical instrument and practice twice a week for a minimum of half an hour. There are many online music tutorials to help you get started!

memory challenges for brain health

Brain workouts

“Stop the reliance upon smart phones and give your brain a workout!” says Dr Joanne Rodda. Our brain is a muscle and just like the body it needs to be exercised to be strong, fit and performing at an optimum level.

“It is important to learn how to remember things and it is possible that generations who have not had the discipline of having to learn and retain information, may be less adept at doing so in the future,“ adds Dr Rodda.

Task: Simple daily challenges such as remembering phone numbers, calendar dates, shopping lists, directions and instructions are a great way of keeping the brain mentally active.

Sleep your way to a healthy brain

Research is indicating that sleep is a powerful weapon in protecting against Alzheimer’s disease. Dr Emer MacSweeney comments, “When we sleep, our brains clear away plaques, proteins and toxins that have built up over the day. Amyloid proteins are understood to be waste from energy the brain uses when communicating, which is swept out during deep sleep.

Task: A buildup of amyloid in the brain causes Alzheimer’s disease, so it is imperative we get 6-8 hours of quality sleep every night to safeguard against the disease.

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