New Year's Resolutions
New Year’s Resolutions
Everyone loves New Year’s resolutions. Apparently, it is also big business because every other commercial this time of year is for a diet pill, gym membership, or some ridiculous home exercise appliance (remember the Thigh Master?). My personal resolution for this year is to stop procrastinating, but I may wait to do that until next year. I will offer four easy suggestions on New Year’s resolutions that will keep your brain happy in 2014.
Wear a helmet. It’s an easy thing to do. Having young children myself, I make sure that they wear appropriate helmets for their activities. I have seen lots of other parents do this also, but they forget to put helmets on their OWN heads. This is particularly true on a bicycle. You don’t need to be going fast to hurt your head; if you don’t believe me just drop a watermelon from the height of your head onto concrete and see what happens. I would also like to remind parents that bicycles are vehicles on the road and need to follow the same rules as a car. It’s very dangerous to be weaving in and out of parked cars on the wrong side of the road like an Englishman leaving their local pub.
Don’t drink too much. I’m sure there were plenty of people who woke up on New Year’s Day saying they will never drink that much again. A moderate amount of alcohol does reduce the chance of getting many neurological diseases, but too much will cause damage to both your brain and the rest of your nervous system. There is a direct toxic effect and also will deplete you of essential vitamins. Too much is more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women. A drink is 12 oz of beer, 4 oz of wine, or 1 ½ oz of hard alcohol.
Increase both physical and mental activities. Your risk of Alzheimer’s disease is lower with regular cardiovascular exercise, such as walking for 20 minutes, three times a week. Pumping iron to get muscles like Arnold; not so much. What is mental exercise? Challenging your mind. This can include playing bridge again or completing your 1000th crossword puzzle, but the best is a completely new topic. This may be the year to learn Spanish or Chinese. New technology can be challenging also; just ask anyone who tried to teach their grandparent how to get voicemail off their cellphone.
Reduce your cardiovascular risk factors. These are the things that cause heart attacks, stroke, and other nasty conditions. I often get asked what I think the chance of a family member getting Alzheimer’s disease is if their parent has it. Because not all memory loss is Alzheimer’s, I frequently empower the family by informing them that a lot of memory trouble has to do with poorly controlled hypertension, high cholesterol, smoking, and diabetes. Weight loss and exercise, both very popular resolutions, will reduce those cardiovascular risk factors. And who doesn’t love to tell someone to quit smoking. Too bad it’s never effective.
If you follow these four easy suggestions your brain will thank you, and that is a great goal for 2014. The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and does not replace proper medical care. Michael Nelson MD is a board certified neurologist and the CEO and co-founder of Memento Care Corporation.