How you spend your free time can play an important role in protecting your brain from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Many of these activities you can do in your free time can help keep your mind sharp, according to studies show.
Physical exercise is important to stay agile and flexible. That’s why we go to the gym, go out to exercise in the street or perform routines at home. In addition, to exercise, we can make additional efforts, such as walking instead of taking the car or public transport; choose the stairs in front of the elevator, etc.
Just as our body needs to move and exercise to stay healthy, our brain also requires stimulation and input. That is why we must do things that pose challenges and mental challenges. Without a regular dose of difficult situations, our brains become “flaccid,” just as our bodies do when we do not exercise enough.
Mental activities to challenge the brain
The following activities will help you challenge your brain and help you reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Acting requires a great deal of memorization. According to one study, 122 seniors who attended theater classes twice a week for four weeks improved their ability to memorize and remember a list of words, remember a number of numbers, read and remember a short story, as well as their performance in many other memory tests. In a follow-up study by the same investigators, older people who took theater classes improved their verbal memory by 19% and verbal fluency by 12%.
2 – Puzzles and board games
According to a study involving 329 older adults, those who regularly played board games and puzzles during their free time were more likely to preserve brain tissue and maintain memory and other cognitive functions compared to people who did not participate in games. The results were also true for people who were genetically predisposed to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
3 – Plastic Arts
Drawing, painting or sculpting are artistic activities that help focus attention. In one study, older people who had practiced painting, drawing, or sculpture were 73% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment over a four-year period than people who did not engage in this type of artistic activity.
4 – Learn a new language
In a study in which researchers evaluated the history of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, it was found that patients who were bilingual or who had at least two languages had developed Alzheimer’s disease an average of 4.6 years later than patients who spoke a single language.
5 – Playing an instrument
It’s never too late to learn how to play an instrument. This activity is a very interesting mental challenge, as it requires the use of many different cognitive processes, including attention, memory, motor skills, hearing skills and visual skills. In this sense, several studies have found that playing a musical instrument delays the onset of cognitive impairment.