What is the evidence?
In recent years, there has been accumulating evidence that participating in activities that make you think hard and learn new things is good for your brain health. People with such active, engaged lifestyles tend to do better on memory and other cognitive tests than people who are less engaged. Even more encouraging is research showing these same individuals are less likely to develop dementia – such as Alzheimer’s disease – than those with less active lifestyles.
If you or someone you know has MCI, it’s not too late to reap the benefits of cognitive engagement. Although there is not a lot of research on this topic specifically with MCI, the few studies that exist show that increasing levels of engagement can help boost thinking skills regardless of where those skills start. In other words, there is always opportunity for growth and improvement.
What to do
There are no “magic bullets” when it comes to choosing activities to participate in as part of an engaged lifestyle. The important ingredients are novelty – you should be learning something new – and challenge – it’s important to pick something that makes you think a bit.
Leisure activities that provide this kind of engagement are nearly limitless. To get you started thinking about your own interests, here are our top 6 ways to engage your brain:
Make it fun
The best thing about having an engaged lifestyle is that, if you choose the right activities for you, it should be a lot of fun. This is really important, because if you don’t enjoy the activities you choose, then you are not likely to spend much time doing them. So, the best advice is to get out there, explore new activities and ideas, choose different things that are enjoyable to you, and have some fun!
Excerpted from the book Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment by Anderson, Murphy, and Troyer.