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4.1 Your physical health affects your brain health

Staying physically healthy can improve your quality of life

Scientific research shows that physical health affects brain health. Staying active allows people to be physically healthy and have a better quality of life. 

Research consistently shows that people with dementia who exercise regularly are more likely to maintain their cognition, continue to do daily tasks, and live in their own homes.  

The flow of blood and oxygen to the brain affects how well the brain works. If your cardiovascular system is working well, your brain will receive more blood and oxygen. Physical exercise increases blood and oxygen flow to the brain and improves heart health. It also helps you stay strong and mobile so you can go about your daily life.  

Food is like fuel for your brain.Your brain needs enough of the right types of fuel to work at its best. Your diet has an effect on the chemicals that your body makes including chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are essential for our brains to work properly.  

Sleep is also important for brain health. Scientists believe that important brain housekeeping happens while you sleep, such as removing toxins from the brain. There is increasing evidence that sleeping at least seven hours a night reduces a person’s risk of getting dementia. Excessive sleep, say more than 10 hours per day, may be a sign of a medical condition.  

People who have fewer health conditions and risk factors for heart disease (i.e., they don’t smoke, are not overweight, do not have high cholesterol or diabetes) are less likely to get dementia. It is possible that managing health and heart disease risk factors may help slow deterioration in people with dementia.