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Introduction to the brain health concept

Professor Brian Lawlor discusses the concept of brain health and our "brain health pension".
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My name is Professor Brian Lawlor, and in this video, we’re going to discuss the concept of brain health. You may be surprised by how many different parts of our physical, mental, and emotional health come into play with our overall brain health. Brain health is not simply the absence of brain diseases. It’s all about getting the most out of your brain, protecting it from risks as much as possible, and building resilience, and what we call cognitive reserve over your lifetime. Cognitive reserve is like your brain health pension. It’s a brain that’s more resilient to wear and tear and to the development and impact of brain diseases later in life. There are several important layers to brain health.
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It’s not all about our thinking skills, our memory, and our mental sharpness. Physical, social, mental, and emotional areas are also key parts to your overall brain health. Our brain is our most important asset. There is no health without brain health. Our brains are flexible, its cells can grow and increase their connections in response to stimulation and experience. We also know from scientific research that there are both risks and protective factors for brain health over the life course, and the good news is that we can modify many of the risk factors. We now know that there are 12 so-called modifiable risk factors, the Big 12 for dementia and poor brain health.
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We’re going to talk a lot about these throughout the course. We now reckon that taken together these risk factors contribute to 40% of dementia cases in later life, which means we could potentially massively reduce our risk by being aware of the risk factors and implementing changes to our lifestyles and behaviours. We can also encourage our colleagues, clubs, teammates, schools, and families to adopt a pro brain health approach. As mentioned, you’ll see these factors are a combination of environmental, physical, and lifestyle factors that interact. So it’s important to understand that while sport and exercise can bring some risks such as falls, head injuries, and broken bones, all of which we must continue working to reduce through good policies practise in education.
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Sport and exercise also brings significant brain health dividends through the benefits of physical activity in our heart, and by promoting healthy lifestyles and social connection. All of which build, protect, and maintain our brain health.

Ever thought of a ‘brain health pension’?

Professor Brian Lawlor talks about brain health and how it is built across the life course, not dissimilar to a pension.

When you’re done watching the video, check out the infographic below.

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Sport and Exercise for Brain Health

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