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To Save Your Brain, Fill Your Calendar

AARP

Kimberly Goad

Study From Mayo Clinic Shows Doing More Activities May Offer Greater Cognitive ProtectionA recent study published in Neurology suggests the kinds of habits that can help protect healthy adults from cognitive decline. In research led by Mayo Clinic, 2,000 healthy adults 70 and up practiced implementing combinations of activities and found that the more you mixed up your activities, rather than getting stuck in predictable patterns, the better. In this case, researchers concluded that more is generally better – more activities and more variations.Higher-level brain function is divided into five domains: language, attention, memory, sense of direction and emotional behavior regulation. Combining activities activates more domains, and the more you activate, the better your activities are for your brain."Take, for example, making a medical decision,” says Namrata Das, M.D., a researcher at the University of Texas at Dallas’ Center for BrainHealth. "Healthy agers might forget some details, but they can still retain enough information to make an informed decision. Whereas people with MCI are overwhelmed with the information provided and may ask the doctor a lot of questions. And people with Alzheimer's can't follow any instructions and the decision is left to the caregivers.” To work more potentially brain-saving activities into your own day, pencil them on your calendar to boost the likelihood you'll follow through. Doubling up on healthy habits is OK, too. If you're looking for ways to spend less time alone and make a dent in your reading list, join a book club at your local library. If you need to walk for your overall health, enlist a friend and count the hour as your “social” brain booster. "Try to learn something interesting every day,” suggests Das, who notes that along with challenging your brain, “nutrition, physical exercise and sleep also promote brain health.” Read full story on AARP  

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