Health & Fitness

Keeping yourself physically and mentally active is an important part of staying healthy. But did you know that this is especially important if you are at risk of HD, gene positive or diagnosed with HD.  Recent research has shown that if you keep yourself active in these areas that you can slow or delay the onset of symptoms.  This means that whilst we don’t yet have a cure or treatment for HD, there is something that you can do to help yourself.

Eat healthy and exercise regularly

Staying physically active can come in many different forms.  This can be anything from walking the dog, yoga or pilates, running, Zumba, team sports, cycling or even doing the household chores!  If you are new to exercise, don’t feel like you have to go from nothing to everything all at once. Be realistic and build physical activity into your lifestyle.  Some of the benefits of regular physical activity/exercise include:

  • Increase blood circulation to the brain
  • Reduce risk of heart disease and/or high blood pressure
  • Release of endorphins which create a positive feeling in the body and help reduce depression, stress and anxiety
  • Boost energy
  • Sharpen memory and overall cognitive abilities
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Boost your immune system

According to the World Health Organisation’s exercise guidelines, on average, adults aged 18-64 should aim to do at least 2 and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity a week (roughly 30 minutes, 5 days a week).

A Healthy Diet

Most foods are OK in moderation, but did you know that a balanced diet is not only good for your waist line but also for your brain!  Nutrients from your food are absorbed into your bloodstream and find their way to your brain improving brain health.  By exposing yourself (and your brain) to a healthy diet you are giving yourself the best opportunity to slow brain ageing.

You can find out further information about eating a balanced diet here

Unhealthy Habits

Whilst we all recognise the importance of exercise and a healthy diet, sometimes it’s easier said than done.  However if you can it is best to avoid or limit the following in your diet:

  • Foods high in saturated fats or sugar
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Illicit drug usage

Cognitive Wellbeing

Keeping our minds active and stimulated is vital for everybody. Often this occurs as a natural part of our day such as when working, studying, or reading.  When it comes to cognitive wellbeing the key message is to ‘use it or lose it’.  Keeping ourselves mentally active over a long period of time will help build a ‘cognitive reserve’.  This helps the brain to compensate for damage caused by HD which means that it can help prevent early cognitive decline.

Some ways you can exercise your brain is by reading, doing puzzles, learning something new or beginning a new hobby, avoiding using a calculator or playing games that require you to use your memory.

You can also find many resources online including apps for your phone.

In addition to keeping minds active, it is also important to get enough sleep and time for relaxation. Mindfulness, meditation or yoga can be beneficial for reducing stress, which also helps the brain to function.