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Hearts and Minds:
A healthy heart makes for a healthy brain


The American Heart Association (AHA) published an advisory of seven steps to maintain a healthy brain. This advisory comes in response to the troubling rise in dementia. There were 4 million cases of dementia in America in 2010. There are projected to be 75 million cases worldwide by 2030. Interestingly, five of the AHA’s seven steps to a healthy brain relate to exercise and cardiovascular health. The seven steps to a healthy brain (aka: Life’s Simple 7) are: don’t smoke, maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI), stay physically active, eat healthy, and maintain healthy levels of cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure.


The AHA advisory states that people should not wait until symptoms of dementia or even stroke are already showing before beginning to engage in countermeasures. In fact, they believe that it is important to think about maintaining brain health as young adults and as children. Parents are even advised to think about such matters while a child is still in the womb.


What's more, simple activities such as maintaining friendships, learning new musical instruments, and engaging in simple puzzles could keep the brain sharp and healthy.


In the past, experts did not relate heart health and brain health, but recent studies have shown a relationship between the two. For instance, while most cases of Alzheimer's disease are due to damages in the brain's nerve cells, vascular diseases may narrow or stiffen the blood vessels leading to the brain. Similarly, strokes could also lead to blockages in the blood flow to the brain.


"Ideal cardiovascular health equates to ideal brain health," said Philip Gorelick, M.D. of Mercy Health Hauenstein Neurosciences, lead author of the AHA study that defining optimal brain health.


In fact, while the authors of the study define optimal brain health as having the optimal capacity to function adaptively in the areas of thinking, moving, and feeling, they also describe it in relation to favorable cardiovascular risk profiles. In short: a healthy brain starts with a healthy heart.


Working on a treadmill desk instead of sitting all day helps maintain four of the seven steps to a healthy brain. Those four are: lowering BMI, staying physically active, lowering blood sugar and blood pressure. Other studies have shown that people who stay active have an easier time with the other three AHA steps, smoking cessation, eating healthy and lowering cholesterol.


So, if you’re now ready to get up out of your chair and take action, start with a walk. If you can’t afford to be away from your desk, go to the UnSit Shop page and buy a WALK-1 Treadmill Desk. Your mind and body will thank you.


~I walked 3,215 steps writing this post.