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Daily activities to keep dementia at bay

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What we eat and drink plays a big part in protecting ourselves against dementia—but so too do simple daily activities, such as walking, socializing and listening to the radio.

Dementia is set to affect 152 million people around the world by 2050—so what can you do to reduce your chances of being one of them?

Quite a lot, it seems. Dementia isn’t a random disease, nor is it the result of your genes; instead, in most cases it’s the result of a poor lifestyle, as study after study has confirmed.

Two of our News reports this month underscore the point: eating a bowl of cranberries every day helps maintain a healthy brain,1 and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, not smoking and not drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can also keep you mentally sharp as you age.2

And the activities you do every day can have as big an influence as your diet, a major new study has uncovered. Researchers from Peking University in Beijing reviewed 38 studies that had tracked the lifestyles of more than 2 million people—and they came up with some surprising findings.3

For one, both watching television and listening to the radio, and especially to music, can reduce your risk. However, the researchers note that “watching television may be insufficiently stimulating to promote cognitive performance.” They don’t speculate about why, but the radio may engage us more and require our active participation, including the use of our imagination.

Being active in the community is also beneficial—but far less than you may think, certainly when it comes to preventing dementia. Community activity—such as volunteering and family visits—may help maintain a healthy heart but won’t do as much for your brain.

Even still, the overall message is positive. “There are plenty of activities that are easy to incorporate into daily life that may be beneficial to the brain,” said lead researcher Lin Lu.

Another study out of China concluded that visits with family and friends were more important—but more important still was doing the household chores every day, as was regular exercise. The researchers from Sichuan University in Chengdu analyzed data from more than 500,000 people in the UK with an average age of 56.4







Front Nutr, 2022; 9: 849902


Alzheimers Dement (Amst), 2022; 14: doi: 10.1002/dad2.12337


Neurology, 2022; doi: 10.1212.WNL.0000000000200929


Neurology, 2022; doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000200701

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