Alzheimer’s Association Shares The 10 Ways to Love Your Brain
- Engage in cardiovascular exercise
- Find educational opportunities including formal education
- Quit smoking
- Take care of your heart and follow a doctor’s advice to reduce heart disease factors
- Avoid taking risks that could cause injury to your head
- Follow a doctor’s recommended diet
- Make sure to get enough sleep
- Take care of your mental health
- Stay socially engaged
- Regularly engage in mentally challenging activities
1. Exercising to break a sweat has great health benefits
“Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body…Read More”
It’s important to note that these recommendations are for everyone. That’s because nearly once every minute (every 66 seconds to be exact) someone in the US develops Alzheimer’s Disease.
Sauna has been shown to have similar benefits to cardiovascular exercise, including raising core body temperature to induce sweating, which elevates the heart rate and increases blood circulation.
Perhaps the best way to enjoy the sauna is to experience it with friends and your family. We encourage everyone to enjoy their time in a sauna. Furthermore, research has shown that two-thirds of those who develop Alzheimer’s are women and according to the Alzheimer’s Association women over sixty are more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s over the course of their lives as they are to develop breast cancer. The benefits of sauna are real and should be shared with everyone.
A sauna bathing study done by Dr. Shields at the University of Iowa shows sauna bathing causes enzymatic changes in the blood that closely simulate the changes present after intense exercise.
2. It’s never too late to learn something new
“Formal education in any stage of life will help reduce your risk of cognitive decline and dementia…”
This recommendation comes from Susanna C Larsson, PhD, of the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. They conducted a study of 24 different risk factors. Dr. Larsson’s study focused on factors such as socioeconomics, lifestyle attributes, general diet, heart health, and levels of inflammation.
One of the major findings was that of the 17,008 Alzheimer’s cases they studied, evidence suggests that higher educational attainment is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Quitting smoking can make a huge impact on your quality of life
“Evidence shows that smoking increases risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce that risk to levels compared to those who have not smoked.”
It has been stated in a few studies that smoking tobacco, particularly regular cigarette smoking, raises the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Those studies were not conclusive about what additives or chemicals were most linked to Alzheimers but they did suggest that smoking increased oxidative stress which linked Alzheimers.
Including oxidative stress, one is at risk for mini-strokes and the arteriosclerosis because smoking increases the likeliness one would develop cerebrovascular disease and therefore dementia and cognitive impairment. It has also been widely reported that smokers more often report higher levels of insomnia and sleep apnea, which have been theoretically linked to an increase in dementia.
While sauna may not specifically help you stop smoking, it will help you to sweat out impurities and to detoxify. It is also very relaxing, which can help a person through the stress associated with stopping an addiction.
4. Exercise and cardiovascular activity are great ways to reduce your risk of cardiac events
“Evidence shows that risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke…negatively impact your cognitive health…”
In February 2015, a University of Eastern Finland study showed regular sauna use by middle-aged men improved heart health and reduced the risk of fatal cardiac events. A WebMD study also found that regular sauna users had lower blood pressure as well as a decreased risk for heart disease and dementia after a 30 minute sauna session.
5. Protect your brain in order to reduce the risk of brain injury
“Brain injury can raise your risk of cognitive decline and dementia…”
The Alzheimer's Association states that the leading causes of TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) that resulted in emergency room visits were falls, being struck by an object and motor vehicle crashes. By taking preventative measures you can preserve your long-term mental well-being.
6. A balanced diet keeps the brain strong
“Eat a healthy and balanced diet that is lower in fat and higher in vegetables and fruit to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline…”
While sauna itself won’t improve your diet, a common practice for many home sauna users is to keep fresh fruit and water in the cooling area between sessions. The light snack is refreshing and helps to rehydrate. It may also help to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Along with adding certain foods to your diet, you should also aim to reduce the consumption of items containing saturated fats, salt, sugars and alcohol.
7. Make sure to get enough rest
“Not getting enough sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea may result in problems with memory and thinking.”
One of the most commonly cited benefits of sauna is how well a person sleeps after regular sauna use. The body and mind are more relaxed, and when taken in the evening, the body temperature will increase while in the sauna and will fall as one prepares for bed, inducing a deeper more restful sleep.
It is recommended that adults get between seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Sleeping has also been shown to improve mental health and helps preserve memories.
8. Reduce stress and anxiety
“Some studies link a history of depression with increased risk of cognitive decline, so seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns. Also, try to manage stress.”
Reduced stress and a quiet place to think, to reflect, and to meditate are some of the benefits of sauna that contribute towards improved mental health. As the Alzheimer’s Association recommends, one should seek medical treatment for mental health concerns, but a sauna can be an important tool. By creating a warm and inviting environment saunas are able to relax muscles, improves circulation and help to relieve any stress or anxiety you may have.
9. Regular social events support mental health
“Staying socially engaged may support brain health…Or, just share activities with friends and family.” Read more.
Sauna is a great place to share time with family and friends. While enjoying the enveloping heat in a sauna, people tend to be more open and honest with each other. For many home sauna owners, the end of the day sauna with a spouse has become sacred time for building and maintaining healthy relationships.
Beyond family, the sauna can serve as a social gathering and team building. Dan Gable, legendary wrestler and coach, frequently comments about the value of the team sauna after practice.
By communicating and socializing with others you are building meaningful relationships with people close to you and creating lasting memories which supports mental health.
10. Challenge yourself mentally
“Challenge and activate your mind. Build a piece of furniture. Complete a jigsaw puzzle…”
To many in the US who have only used sauna at a health club, the thought of multiple sauna innings may be foreign; however, for home sauna bathers, it is quite normal and preferred. The sauna time itself can become a ritual with time built-in for games, puzzles, or other mentally stimulating activities. When cooling between innings, fit a few puzzle pieces into place or play a hand of cards before going back in for another round. By engaging in activities you are keeping your mind and body in peak form and actively problem solving which can help prevent Alzheimers.
To learn more about the Alzheimer’s Association and the resources they make available, visit www.alz.org. They have many great articles, tips, recommendations, and ways to become involved.
Did you know sauna can help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?
In a recent medical report released by the University of Eastern Finland, the men in the study who used sauna 4-7 times per week were found to have a 65% reduction in risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and a 66% reduction in risk of Dementia. The study is promising and is an indication that additional research should be done on sauna bathing and its impact on Alzheimer’s. In an effort to educate people on ways to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, the Alzheimer’s Association has created a list of “10 Ways to Love Your Brain”.
To learn more about the health benefits of sauna, download the Top 10 Healthful Benefits of Sauna or visit your local dealer.