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Starts at $9.98 per contact hour
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4 hours $8.98
8 hours $7.98
12 hours $6.98
20 hours $5.98
30 hours $4.98

Healthy Lifestyles: How Stress, Nutrition, Physical Activity, Substance Abuse, And Nature Affect Brain Health

2.0 Contact Hours
Target Audience: Nurses, healthcare professionals, and interested individuals
Purpose/Goal: The outcome of this course is for the learner to describe the effects of brain health on specific lifestyle factors including stress, nutrition, physical activity, substance abuse, and nature.
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Individuals' lifestyles can have a powerful impact on the health of their body and mind. The brain is affected by virtually every aspect of their life including their levels of stress, the foods they choose to eat, the amount and type of physical activity in which they engage, whether or not they abuse drugs, and whether or not they regularly spend time in nature.

Upon completion of the course, you will be able to do the following:

  • Examine the effects of stress on the brain.
  • Describe the impact of nutrition on brain health.
  • Discuss how physical activity affects the brain.
  • Explain the impact of substance abuse on the brain.
  • Describe the role of nature in brain health.

A healthy lifestyle supports a healthy body and mind. The concept of a healthy brain is not new but it has recently received increasing focus because of the importance of a healthy brain to a healthy physical, emotional, social, mental, and spiritual life. In a population that is increasingly comprised of older adults (with associated declines in cognition), adopting a brain-healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of brain deficits and diseases and substantially improve one’s quality of life. Lifestyle factors, such as effective stress management, a nutritious diet, moderate and regular physical activity, a lack of substance abuse, and time in nature are important predictors of how well one’s brain will function throughout life.


Stress affects every aspect of the body, mind, and spirit. Stress is difficult to define because it varies from individual to individual. What one person finds stressful might not bother another person. There are many types of stressors, and each can result in many different effects on the body. Stress affects the brain in ways that affect memory, learning, and mood.

Three levels of the Brain: Vegetative, Limbic System, and Neocortical

The brain is the cognitive center of the body in which memories are stored, ideas are generated, and emotions originate (Contrada & Baum, 2011). The human brain is further divided into three levels: the vegetative level, the limbic system, and the neocortical level (Freeman, 2004; Seaward, 2014):

  • The vegetative level consists of both the brain stem and the reticular formation, which connects the brain to the spinal cord.
  • The limbic system is the emotional center of the brain and contains the thalamus, hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and a structure called the amygdala. The amygdala links an individual’s emotional responses to memories and is strongly connected to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus modulates heart activity, body temperature, blood pressure, and endocrine activity, and it also contains the centers that modulate a person’s emotional condition and basic biologic drives (sex, thirst, and hunger). When the amygdala responds to danger or stress, it signals the hypothalamus to initiate the fight-or-flight response by the sympathetic nervous system.
  • The neocortical level, the highest and most sophisticated level of the brain, is where an individual’s sensory information is processed (decoded) as a threat or nonthreat and where cognition (thought process) takes place. The neocortex houses the neural mechanisms that allow an individual to analyze, imagine, and create, utilizing intuition, memory, and cognitive organization.

Complete the course post exam (CE Test) with a score of 80% or greater. Complete all fields of the course evaluation form. Certificate of Completion is provided once the course post exam is passed per criteria above.

  • American Board of Managed Care Nursing
  • ANCC - American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • AOTA - American Occupational Therapy Association
  • ASWB - Association of Social Work Boards
  • California Board of Behavioral Sciences
  • California Board of Registered Nursing
  • California Department of Health, Aid, and Technician Certification Section
  • District of Columbia Board of Nursing
  • Florida Board of Nursing
  • Florida Board of Nursing - Certified Nursing Assistants
  • Florida Board of Respiratory Care
  • Florida Council of Dietetics and Nutrition
  • Florida Council of Licensed Midwifery
  • NAADAC - The National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors
  • NCBTMB -National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork
  • Florida Board of Massage Therapists


Practice Level:


Content Focus:

Occupational Therapy Process

Course Expires:

October 01, 2020

  • Cyndie Koopsen, RN, BSN, MBA, HNB-BC, RN-BC, HWNC-BC
  • Caroline Young, MPH
Jurisdictional Requirements:

Continuing education (CE) licensing requirements vary by jurisdiction, are not well defined, and may change. These CE requirements may vary in terms of the number of hours required to the types of courses that must be taken. ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC recommends you contact your licensing board or accrediting organization for the latest continuing education requirements of your state or territory. Compliance with CE requirements is the responsibility of the individual health care provider. Health care providers must understand the CE requirements in their jurisdictions, and be sure they are up-to-date on any rule changes that affect their license. For further information, please see our Accreditation Information.

Accommodations for Disabilities:

Every effort will be made to accommodate your special needs. To request accommodations, please contact us.

Conflicts of Interest and Relevant Financial Relationships:

The authors/planning committee members have no conflicts of interests or relevant financial relationships to declare relevant to this activity.

Commercial Support:

No commercial support has been received for this activity.

Non-endorsement of products:

Accreditation refers to recognition of continuing nursing education only and does not imply ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC approval or endorsement of any commercial product.

Off-label Use of Products:

None of the authors intend to discuss off-label uses of drugs, mechanical devices, biologics, or diagnostics not approved by the FDA for use in the United States.