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