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Consumer Reports: 4 Steps to Boost Brainpower

Consumer Reports recently featured Zaldy Tan, MD, MPH, medical director of the Jona Goldrich Center for Alzheimer's and Memory Disorders at Cedars-Sinai, in an article about key ways to boost brainpower and stay sharp as you age.

Physical activity not only keeps the body fit but the mind as well. "We know that regular aerobic exercise boosts blood flow to your brain and also increases the size of your hippocampus, the part of your brain that’s involved in verbal memory and learning," Tan told Consumer Reports.

Tan advised aiming for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days, pointing out that even a simple walking program can lead to significant improvements for individuals who have been inactive. In fact, sedentary people age 55 and older can improve their thought processes in just six months by walking three times a week.

Other strategies for boosting brainpower include eating a diet rich in produce, nuts, beans, whole grains and healthy fats from foods such as fatty fish and olive oil. Monitoring one's health also is important. Those who miss checkups and appointments can increase their risk of developing diseases like hypertension and Type 2 diabetes, which can damage blood vessels in the brain.

Doing a favorite activity also can benefit the brain because people will be motivated to stick with it. Playing board games or card games and reading all can help lower the risk of dementia when done regularly. But Tan recommended pursuing these interests in person, when possible.

"Virtual activities were a great way to stay connected during the pandemic, but there are other benefits to in-person events, like the fact that you’ll walk around more and get more exercise," Tan told Consumer Reports. "This way, you incorporate several ways to keep your brain healthy."

Click here to read the complete article from Consumer Reports.