Dementia affects millions, and future predictions expect those numbers to jump as the population continues to age. A new study, however, suggests this condition may not be inevitable.
New research published in Neurology links several daily activities that may lower the risk for dementia, which likely comes as great news to you.
Several previous studies have linked leisure activities with better heart health and individual perceptions of well-being. However, evidence linking activities with dementia risk has been a little murkier, with findings often conflicting.
But researchers in this new study found that leisure activities like crafts, playing sports, or volunteering, among other things, were associated with a lower risk for dementia.
The study reviewed 38 existing studies that included more than 2 million people who did not have dementia. Of them, 74,700 went on to develop the condition during a three-year follow-up period.
After controlling for factors like age, gender, and education, they found that people who engaged in leisure activities had a 17 percent lower chance of dementia than people who didn’t.
They found that mental activities like reading, writing for pleasure, watching TV, listening to the radio/music, playing games or instruments, using a computer, or making crafts, were linked with a 23 percent lower risk for dementia.
Physical activities like walking, running, swimming, cycling, weight lifting, yoga, sports, and dancing were associated with a 17 percent lower risk.
Lastly, they found that engaging in social activities like staying in touch with friends, taking classes, joining clubs, volunteering, spending time with relatives or friends, or attending church, may lower the risk by 7 percent.
Of course, it is important to note that the study does not prove these leisure activities reduce the risk of, or prevent, dementia, just that there may be an association.
Some, or many, of these activities can easily fit into most people’s lifestyles. So, if you want to potentially reduce your risk for dementia, try picking some up. Also, take care of your heart and do your best to eat a healthful diet.