Hobbies Boost Seniors' Brainpower: Study

Friday, 04 Oct 2013 12:18 PM

 

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Taking up a few hobbies after retirement can keep your brain sharp and fend off mental deterioration and even depression, a new study has found.

Announced this week, new research from Concordia University in Montreal has found that hobbies such as reading, socializing, and traveling can keep your mind engaged and boost mental health during your golden years. While stepping out of a busy work life can sometimes leave a void, with retirees left understimulated both mentally and socially, taking part in mentally engaging activities can override that effect, the findings suggest.

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"Retirement usually occurs right around the time when normal age-related declines in cognitive function come to the fore," said clinical psychologist and study leader Dr. Lawrence Baer. "So it is important to understand what is happening to brainpower during this period and to identify risk factors for mental decline, as well as factors that will help protect against it."

Baer and his team examined data conducted over four years from 333 retirees, who had an average age of 59 and were in good health at the onset of the study. Subjects underwent assessments of cognition, motivation, and activities once a year.

The study's findings appear online in The Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences.

A separate study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine in April found that a combination of light exercise and mental stimulation from computer games can also help keep seniors mentally sharp. University of California San Francisco researchers found the memory and thinking skills of 126 inactive older adults improved after they were given daily activities designed to engage not only their brains but also their bodies.

Previous studies have shown that 30-minute sessions several times a week of brisk walking or weight training can also boost brain power in seniors.

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© AFP/Relaxnews 2014

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