Think back to when you were in school and enjoyed those glorious weeks of summer vacation each year. How did you spend your time?
I remember active summers of swimming at the community pool, playing tennis, having friends over to play volleyball in our back yard, and taking long bike rides out into farm country. Several years I attended summer camp, and they kept us busy with games and races, pool time and hikes in the woods. One year my brother and I joined a junior bowling league. Another year we played baseball with the neighborhood kids. This was our idea of fun, doing something active and engaging, usually out of doors, and with others our age.
Of course, when the weather didn’t cooperate with our plans for the day, there were books to read and games to play. My friend Debbie and her sister would join my brother and me at our house to play Rummy, Mille Bourne and Pinochle. We also did the crossword puzzles in the newspaper and enjoyed other brain-teasers. This was a time before computers, when we amused ourselves with physical activity and mental stimulation.
As we move toward retirement age, we would do well to look back at those activities we so enjoyed as children and consider which ones still interest us. I say this because two of the top habits for maintaining good health involve regular physical exercise and mental stimulation. Other top recommendations include:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Getting quality sleep
- Enjoying an active social life
- Managing stress
- Keeping alcohol consumption low
- Controlling diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol
- Refraining from smoking
- Avoiding cynicism
These activities not only promote good health, but they also are the top ways to prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia. The literature from these sources:
- PsyBlog post titled “10 Ways to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease,” by Dr. Jeremy Dean
- Mayo Clinic’s Glenn Smith, Ph.D.’s answer to the question, “Are there any proven Alzheimer’s prevention strategies?”
- HelpGuide.org’s recommendations for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Prevention
- National Institute on Aging’s article “Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease: What Do We Know?”
all speak to the issue. While each article’s list varied slightly, the tactics I saw listed again and again were regular exercise, healthy diet, mental stimulation, social engagement, no smoking, low alcohol consumption, monitoring health conditions and maintaining good mental health.
So, when you plan fun activities each weekend, activities that engage you both physically and mentally and involve others, you are actually promoting your health and doing what you can to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Who’s up for a bike ride?