Although your brain is not a muscle, it may make sense to treat it as such. Without enough exercise, it could become weak and more prone to trouble.
That’s important to think about as you advance in years. After all, declining brain health and a lowered capacity to think and remember are among the biggest fears associated with aging.
Much like muscles, your brain benefits from a healthy diet, active lifestyle, and good sleep. But it may also gain from staying engaged, challenged, and satisfied.
There are studies to suggest that work engagement and life satisfaction are closely associated with brain health and cognitive decline, even when physical troubles—like beta-amyloid accumulation in the brain—are present.
A study published in the July 2020 issue of Neurology found that older adults were less likely to experience cognitive decline when they reported life satisfaction and enjoyed their career. The study lasted about 14 years, and the average age was 92.
Researchers looked at 100 participants, and 30 percent had little, if any, cognitive decline during the study period. These participants shared several similar lifestyle traits, including life satisfaction and reporting having an engaging and enjoyable career.
Of course, you may not have been a massive fan of your job. If you’re still working, you might wish you weren’t. But there are things you can do to improve life and career satisfaction to potentially fight brain aging.
The main benefits of work appear to be problem solving and social engagement. Thankfully, you don’t need a job, or even a job you love, to enjoy those aspects of work.
If the idea of getting back into the workplace is unappealing, even on a part-time basis, consider other ways to engage. Perhaps it is learning about areas of interest, re-engaging with interests in your past, or joining a virtual meet-up group or class to expand a social circle. Doing so can introduce you to new people and spark conversation about common interests.
And remember, eventually you’ll be able to meet up in person.
Keeping your mind active and engaged plays a role in brain health, so work it out daily. It could have some big benefits.