10 Healthy Habits to Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

Research shows that healthy behaviors may reduce the risk of cognitive decline and help reduce the risk of dementia. A recent poll reported that retired Americans fear developing dementia more than any other condition.

While some brain changes are inevitable as we age, there is a growing body of research to suggest that adopting healthy behaviors, including healthy eating, exercising regularly, not smoking, and staying cognitively engaged may help our brain health at any age. Several studies on risk reduction generated considerable attention in recent years, including one that found eating a large amount of ultra-processed food can significantly accelerate cognitive decline. Another study suggests that regular physical activity, even modest or low exertion activity such as stretching, may protect brain cells against damage.

“Understanding the role that brain healthy behaviors may play in reducing cognitive decline is a robust area of research,” said Delia Jervier, Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter. “There are steps we can take now to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline later.”

Based on mounting scientific evidence, the Alzheimer’s Association offers these 10 healthy habits for your brain. Follow as many of these 10 tips as possible to achieve maximum benefits for the brain and body.


  1. Challenge your mind. Be curious. Put your brain to work and do something new for you. Learn a new skill. Try something artistic. Challenging your mind may have short- and long-term benefits for your brain.
  2. Stay in school. Education reduces your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Encourage youth to stay in school and pursue the highest level of training possible. Continue your education by taking a class at a local library, college, or online.
  3. Get moving. Engage in regular exercise. This includes activities that raise your heart rate and increase blood flow to the brain and body. Find ways to build more movement into your day—walking, dancing, gardening—whatever works for you!
  4. Protect your head. Help prevent an injury to your head. Wear a helmet for activities like biking, and wear a seatbelt. Do what you can to prevent falls, especially for older adults.
  5. Be smoke-free. Quitting smoking can lower the risk of cognitive decline back to levels similar to those who have not smoked. It’s never too late to stop.
  6. Control your blood pressure. Medications can help lower high blood pressure. Healthy habits like eating right and physical activity can help too. Work with a healthcare provider to control your blood pressure.
  7. Manage diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or controlled by healthier eating, increasing physical activity, and medication, if necessary.
  8. Eat right. Eating healthier foods can help reduce your risk of cognitive decline. This includes more vegetables and leaner meats/proteins, along with foods that are less processed and lower in fat. Choose healthier meals and snacks that you enjoy and are available to you. Make eating right a habit!
  9. Maintain a healthy weight. Talk to your healthcare provider about the weight that is healthy for you. Other healthy habits on this list—eating right, physical activity, and sleep—can help with maintaining a healthy weight.
  10. Sleep well. Good quality sleep is important for brain health. Stay off screens before bed and make your sleep space as comfortable as possible. Do all you can to minimize disruptions. If you have any sleep-related problems, such as sleep apnea, talk to a healthcare provider.


“Research confirms what we have suspected for some time—people can lower their chances of cognitive decline by incorporating healthy habits into their daily lives,” said Olivia Matongo, Vice President of Programs, Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter. “Adopting these 10 healthy habits every day can reduce the risk for cognitive decline and dementia. This is true even for people who have a history of dementia in their families. It’s never too late or too early to take charge of your brain health.”


The Alzheimer’s Association is available with information and support for families as they navigate the disease and related research. For more information, visit alz.org or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.


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