Looking after your heart can benefit your brain too
Did you know that keeping your heart healthy can reduce your risk of developing dementia? There's growing evidence that all the habits we understand to be good for the heart are also good for the brain.
Research has shown that up to 40% of dementia cases are down to factors we can influence but surveys also suggest that few people are aware it's possible to reduce their risk of getting the condition later in life.
In fact, just as you can improve aspects of your physical health, you can also take steps to keep your brain healthy.
Getting active, managing blood pressure, keeping a healthy weight and stopping smoking are among the habits you can build into everyday life to give yourself the best possible chance of avoiding the heartbreak of a dementia diagnosis in the future.
Make a change in 2023
Here in Surrey, around 17,700 people are living with dementia. Numbers are projected to rise by more than a quarter, to 22,600, between 2020 and 2030.
Many dementia cases are linked to things we can't change, such as our age and genes, but evidence is becoming stronger that dementia isn't always inevitable and there are steps we can take to influence our risk of developing the condition.
If you're planning to make a healthy fresh start in 2023, make positive changes for your brain health too.
Seven healthy habits
There's a wealth of tips, support and local services available to help make healthy habits stick.
1. Manage your blood pressure
If you're aged 40 to 74 with no pre-existing conditions, make sure you get your free NHS health check which includes some simple tests including blood pressure. You can get them every five years. Visit the Healthy Surrey free health checks website to find out how. You can also get a quick and easy BP+ check at a participating pharmacy to check your blood pressure and pulse rate.
2. Get active
With stunning scenery on our doorstep, Surrey offers a wealth of opportunities to be active. Head to Healthy Surrey Get Active web page to find activities to suit you, even if you can only fit in 10 minutes. You can also explore our 31 ideas for connecting with nature this winter on the Healthy Surrey 31 tips web page.
3. Keep to a healthy weight
Visit the Healthy Surrey losing weight website to try a quick and easy quiz about your diet and lifestyle and also to find your BMI. You'll be able to find out about the support available to help you get down to a healthy weight and stay that way for good, including the NHS Better Health website where you'll find free weight loss plans. Check out Health Unlocked to join a supportive group of people.
4. Enjoy a healthy diet
The Healthy Surrey losing weight website shows how much of what we eat overall and what should come from each food group to achieve a healthy, balanced diet. Also check out the One You Easy Meals app for healthy recipes or visit the NHS Better Health website.
5. Get socially active
Find ways to get involved in your local community, or look for befriending services, through Connect to Support Surrey.
6. Keep within alcohol limits
The DrinkCoach alcohol test is a quick and confidential way you can see if your drinking is putting your health at risk. Depending on your result, you may be signposted to services which can help you change your drinking habits.
7. Quit smoking
If you're a smoker, quitting for good is the most important step you can take to protect the health of your heart while also giving your brain a break. The One You Surrey stop smoking service has all the support you need to make 2023 the year you kick the habit once and for all.
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