“Intellectual, socially and physically active lifestyle can ward off dementia”

Education, work and social life may help protect the brain from cognitive decline, a new study suggests (Katie Collins/PA) (PA Archive)

Leading an “intellectually, socially and physically active lifestyle” may help protect against dementia and other cognitive declines, a new study suggests.

This may include continuing education or participation in hobbies.

The new study, published in the journal Neurology, examined several factors that can lead to cognitive decline.

It involved around 1,184 participants, all born in the UK in 1946.

These results are exciting because they indicate that cognitive ability is subject to factors throughout our lives, and participating in an intellectually, socially and physically active lifestyle can help stave off cognitive decline and dementia.

Dr Dorina Cadar, Brighton and Sussex Medical School

The researchers examined each participant’s childhood cognition at age eight, their “educational completion” at age 26, their involvement in leisure activities at age 43, and their occupation until age 53.

Participants’ reading ability was also assessed at age 53, as well as an examination of their cognitive abilities at age 69.

This test had a maximum score of 100 and the average score among participants was 92.

The researchers found that those who performed better on the 69-year-old cognition test were more likely to have higher scores on assessments taken earlier in life — the childhood cognitive skills, the “cognitive reserve index” and the tests. of reading ability.

Those with a degree performed better than those with no formal education.

But the team of academics found that continuing to learn throughout life can help protect the brain.

Participants who performed six or more leisure activities, such as adult education classes, clubs, volunteer work, social activities, and gardening, scored higher than people who performed up to four leisure activities.

Study author Dorina Cadar, from Brighton and Sussex Medical School, said: “These results are exciting because they indicate that cognitive ability is subject to lifelong factors, and participating in an intellectually, socially and physically active lifestyle can help prevent cognitive decline and dementia.

“It is encouraging to find that building cognitive reserve can offset the negative influence of low childhood cognition for people who may not have benefited from an enriching childhood and offer stronger mental resilience until later in life.”

The authors also found that people who had “professional” careers performed better on tests of cognition when they were 69 years old compared with people who had “unskilled” jobs.

From a public health and societal perspective, there can be broad and long-term benefits to investing in higher education, expanding opportunities for leisure activities, and providing cognitively challenging activities for people, especially those working in low-skilled occupations.

Dr. Michal Schnaider Beeri, Icahn School of Medicine

The Doctor. Michal Schnaider Beeri of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study, said: “From a public health and societal perspective, there can be broad, long-term benefits to investing in education, expanding opportunities for leisure activities and providing cognitively challenging activities for people, especially those working in low-skilled occupations”.

Commenting on the study, Katherine Gray, research communications manager at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: and thinking problems in her later years.

“From childhood to adulthood, participants who kept their brains active, whether in education, careers, or participating in complex hobbies, had better thinking skills at age 69.

“The number of people with dementia in the UK is estimated to rise to 1.6 million by 2040. While there are many risk factors linked to developing dementia, it is hopeful to know that engaging in mentally stimulating activities and finding ways to Challenging your brain can help reduce the development of memory and thinking problems in the future.”

It comes as a new study presented to the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in San Diego concluded that high blood pressure during pregnancy is linked to an increased risk of dementia.

Women who have high blood pressure during pregnancy have a greater chance of being diagnosed with vascular dementia later in life, the researchers said.

Commenting on the findings, Dr. Rosa Sancho, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart health problems, which has an indirect effect on brain health. This new research highlights the impact that high blood pressure and related disorders during pregnancy can have on women’s risk of developing dementia later in life.”

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