How To Develop Your Personal Plan for a Healthy Brain

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Alzheimer's prevention tips. BURGER/PHANIE / Getty Images

You've heard that taking care of yourself can keep your brain sharp, and maybe even reduce your risk of Alzheimer's, but where do you begin? Follow these instructions to develop your personal plan for a healthy brain, and you'll be on your way to better brain health in no time.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: In 15 minutes or less, you can have your own personal plan for a healthy brain!

Here's How:

  1. Make A Pledge
    Take out a clean sheet of paper and write this at the top:

    I, (fill in your name), pledge to put my head first when thinking about my health and well-being. I need a healthy, well-functioning brain in order to achieve overall health and wellness.

  1. Assess Your Heart Health
    Research has linked cardiovascular problems to an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease. It follows that what's good for your heart is good for your brain.

    Write down each of these conditions:

    Now, next to each condition, place a P if you do not have the condition, or an A if you do. This means that you will either take active steps to Prevent or Address the condition.

  2. Find Out Your Numbers
    Several health "numbers" are indicators of heart and brain health. Keeping these numbers within healthy parameters can enhance brain functioning.

    Write down your numbers for the following health indicators:

    If any of your numbers are outside of a healthy range, take steps to correct them by talking to your doctor or clicking on the indicators.

  1. Eat For Your Brain
    Read the Alzheimer's Association's suggestions for adopting a brain-healthy diet. Then write down three foods you need to eat less of and three foods you need to eat more frequently.
  2. Move For Your Brain
    Physical activity enhances blood flow to the brain, which in turn nourishes brain cells so they can function more effectively. The kind of exercise you choose is not as important as whether you enjoy it and how often you do it. You should aim for 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day (walking, yoga, gardening, and bicycling are all good examples).

    Write down three kinds of exercise that you enjoy or would like to try. Also, write down the best time of day for you to exercise, so you can schedule it in your daily planner.

  1. Use Your Noodle
    We used to think that generating new brain cells was impossible after reaching adulthood. Now we know that keeping the mind active can actually generate new brain cells and connections well into old age. This provides us with a cognitive reserve so if Alzheimer's arises, we can better compensate for it.

    The key to staying mentally active is to try new, novel things. Examples include reading, playing games, doing word puzzles, attending classes and plays, or starting a new hobby.

    List two things you do now that keep you mentally active; then write down one new thing you want to try to engage your mind.

  2. Stay Connected
    Research has shown that those who stay socially active are less likely to develop Alzheimer's than those who are lonely or isolated. For maximum benefit, try to engage in social activities that also include physical and/or mental activity.

    List two things you do now to stay socially active, such as participating in a club, volunteering, meeting friends for coffee, or traveling. Then list one new thing you want to try to connect with others.

  3. Protect Your Brain
    Research has linked traumatic head injury -- when the blow is strong enough to lose consciousness -- to an increased risk of Alzheimer's and other dementias. It's important to take precautions against head injury by wearing your seatbelt, wearing protective headgear when bicycling, horseback riding, etc., and making sure your home is fall-proof.

    Write down one thing you are not doing now that you will start doing to protect your brain.

  1. Quit Unhealthy Habits
    Substance abuse can do irreparable damage to the brain as well as other bodily systems. Write down each of these unhealthy habits:

    Now, next to each habit, place an A if you do not engage in it, or an E if you do. This means that you will either continue to Avoid the habit or take steps to Eliminate it.

  2. Seal The Deal
    At the bottom of your plan, write:

    I will follow this plan to the best of my ability, refer to it frequently, and revise it as necessary because enhancing my brain is an important way to achieve overall health.

    Sign your plan and post it where you'll see it frequently. Congratulations! You're on your way to a healthier brain.


    Brain health. Alzheimer's Association. October 18, 2007.

    Successful aging. Alzheimer's Foundation of America. 2008.

    What You Need:

    • One Sheet of Paper
    • Pen or Pencil

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