Packing more into the day increases the opportunity to learn new things which stimulate and challenge the brain… and for those worried about age-related memory loss, this ground-breaking study was done on men and women aged 50-plus.
330 healthy men and women in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s were questioned by researcher Dr Sarah Festini of the University of Texas at Dallas about their daily schedules and lifestyle before being put through a series of mental tests.
The results, published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, revealed that no matter how old, or how well educated they were, a busy lifestyle indicated a healthy brain. The study found that busy people process information more quickly and possess superior memory, reasoning and vocabulary, compared to those whose lives were more sedentary.
People who reported greater levels of daily busyness tended to have better cognition – especially with regard to memory for recently learned information. In addition, episodic memory – the ability to remember specific past events – was also particularly good.
The researchers are not claiming that being busy is good for the brain because it may just be that people whose minds are still sharp do more stuff. However, it seems most likely that keeping active keeps the brain active – busy people have more opportunities to learn as they are exposed to more information and encounter a wider range of situations in daily life. Learning is known to stimulate cognition.
Another recent study found that a sustained effort in learning difficult new skills, such as computing or learning to play the piano, also boosts episodic memory.
The bottom line seems to be, if you want to stay smart, keep busy!
Copyright Andrew Newton 2016. All rights reserved.