FUN activities to ward off dementia

On Tuesday, we talked about certain dietary choices that may put you on the fast track to cognitive decline.

And since we’re all hoping to keep our brains in tip-top shape for as long as possible, I thought I’d share some research that highlights yet another lifestyle intervention for better cognition.

In fact, research has linked these engagements to a reduced risk of dementia… up to 23 percent!

The best part? The activities are FUN… and sustainable!

Cognitive, physical, and social activities

In a large meta-analysis, researchers looked at how leisure activities might impact cognition in more than 2.1 million adults.

Participants self-reported their engagements, which were then grouped into cognitive, physical, or social activities.

Here are some examples of each:

  • Cognitive—reading, crafting, playing games or musical instruments
  • Physical—walking, running, cycling, dancing, swimming
  • Social—visiting with others, attending classes or groups, volunteer work

The conclusion? Doing something you actually enjoy may slow cognitive decline!

In fact, those who engaged in cognitive activities experienced the greatest protection—a 23 percent reduced dementia risk.

But physical activities offered a 17 percent risk reduction, and social activities were linked to a 7 percent diminished risk.

What’s more, the activities were found to be protective against multiple types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Consistency is key, yet again
While these findings aren’t much of a surprise, they are a welcome reminder that staying mentally, physically, and socially active as we age is imperative to better health.

The jury is still out on just how much—and how often—you should engage in these activities to see the greatest protection. But I would assume that consistency is the key here.

The more you engage… the more likely you are to reap the rewards.

For me, I enjoy the New York Times crossword. I do it daily on my way to the office. It keeps my mind sharp—and helps keep my mind off of the perils of riding the subway in a post-pandemic NYC. (Two birds, one stone.)

So, do yourself a favor and find something that you enjoy doing too. Then, stick with it.

Until next time,
Dr. Fred

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“Can Walking, Reading, Crafting Curb Dementia Risk?” Medscape, 08/17/2022. (