photoYesterday I had the honor of speaking about understanding and managing caregiver anger and guilt at the Symposium for Parkinson’s Disease in Portland, Oregon. The event was sponsored by OHSU (Oregon Health & Sciences University). I also attended other sessions presented by doctors who talked about brain health.

Dr. Joe Quinn talked about how stress interferes with brain cell synthesis and how it actually changes the physical structure of brain cells. He emphasized that exercise is one of the most effective stress relievers,and one of the best things we can do for our brains. He recommended going to the American Heart Association’s website: Life’s Simple 7. Here’s a link to a free self-assessment:

I know you may be thinking that you don’t have time to go to the gym or an exercise class. It does take effort, but the payoffs are huge. Dr. Fay Horak said physical exercise trumps mental exercise for brain health. Here are the benefits:

1. Improves memory
2. Improves attention
3. Improves learning
4. Improves executive function
5. Less brain shrinkage
6. Increases dopamine (the happy chemical in your brain)

As caregivers there are a lot of things we can’t control, but we can control what we eat and how we take care of our bodies. I hope you’ll find time today to get outside and walk. Even twenty minutes will make a difference.