Saturday, February 4, 2017

Engage the Brain

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic’s Scottsdale, Arizona, campus reveal simple activities can hold off mental decline into the 70s and beyond. Playing bridge or chess, spending time on a craft project, and reading stimulate the aging brain.
Published in the Jan. 30 edition of JAMA Neurology,  the study showed that mentally stimulating activities “protect against new-onset mild cognitive impairment, which is the intermediate stage between normal cognitive aging and dementia.” 
“Persons who performed these activities at least one to two times per week had less cognitive decline than those who engaged in the same activities only two to three times per month or less,” said Yonas Geda, M.D., psychiatrist and behavioral neurologist at the Mayo Clinic and senior author of the study.
The study involved 2,000 individuals between 70 and 93. Researchers looked at five types of activities believed to keep the mind sharp: computer use, making crafts, playing games including chess or bridge, going to movies or other types of socializing, and reading books. 
Biggest benefits were observed in computer users and individuals without a gene variation linked with Alzheimer’s disease. Even in older adults with that gene, pre-dementia mental decline occurred less often among those who engaged in crafting, playing games and mind-stimulating activities.

Staying engaged mentally and socially stimulates the brain. Get started earlier than in your 70s.  
Create, write, read, and remember to play.  
Wander without a set destination in nature. Observe with all the senses to discover connections and amusements. Breathe in fragrances and revel in life away from frustrations or concerns. 
Don't forget to smile!

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