those who want to avoid Alzheimer’s, try a game of checkers.
study conducted at the Einstein College of Medicine in New York
has found that taking part in activities that stimulate the mind
reduces the chances of getting Alzheimer’s or related illnesses
in your golden years.
activities, according to a summary of the study in the New
England Journal of Medicine, include reading, playingboard
games – such as chess or checkers – playing bridge, playing musical
instruments and dancing.
general, things that challenge your brain are things that protect
against dementia,” Joe Verghese, the lead researcher on the study,
most physical activities did not help people avoid the mind-sapping
illness, dancing was effective, in part because it stimulates
the mind as well as the body, the authors of the study, titled
“Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia in the Elderly,”
while many truckdrivers may regard keeping that big rig on the
road as challenging, Verghese was not sure if that activity alone
would achieve the results he saw for other mental activities.
didn’t actually look at driving,” Joe Verghese, the lead researcher
on the study, said. “I would think that driving by itself wouldn’t
be mentally challenging enough.”
driving combined with some other activities could achieve the
effect described in the study. For example, driving while listening
to an education tape or an audio book.
said the study differed from other medical research in that it
didn’t look for risk factors of things that are bad for you –
his study looked for things that are “good for your brain as opposed
to things that are bad.”
study showed that even a small amount of mental activity was better
for patients than not having any at all, Verghese said. However,
like mustard on a sandwich, if a little is good, more is better.
The more time older adults spend in mental activity, the better
their brains do.
don’t think you can just sit in front of the tube.
depends on what kind of TV,” Verghese said. “I imagine that seeing
education programs, or if you’re watching TV as part of a self-education
process, watching PBS and trying to learn more about nature or
other such things, then it might have some benefit.
then again, just sitting on the couch doesn’t help.”
Mark H. Reddig, associate editor
Reddig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.