How many studies do we have to see before we accept that exercising our brains makes them highly likely to be healthy throughout our lives? The Chicago Aging Study from the Rush University Medical Center has just released results of yet another aspect of their large, multi-year study. This time, more 700 than folks with an average age of 80 were observed. The people who regularly and consistently engaged in cognitively stimulating activities--reading the newspaper, playing chess, seeing plays, reading and visiting the library--were 2.6 times less likely (almost three times less likely!) to develop dementia and Alzheimer's than those who did not engage in such activities. Even mild cognitive impairment, typically associated with age, was greatly delayed and reduced.
I find it interesting that so many of the activities described were interactive ones. In other words, other people were involved, as in a chess partner or seeing a play or going to the library. I believe we will find in future studies that positive interactions with others is a significant method of motivating us to keep our minds in gear.