A busy life can keep the brain sharp

By Shayna Brouker • Published: August 5th, 2016
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

For many people, life never slows down. There are work meetings, visits with the in-laws, and getting the kids to school and soccer practice on time. Your busy schedule may feel like a burden, but new research suggests it could help keep your brain healthy later in life.

A recent University of Texas study published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience asked more than 330 men and women between the ages of 50 and 89 to rate how busy they were. The researchers’ work included asking questions about how often people had more tasks than they could complete in a day. Then they tested the volunteers’ memory, vocabulary and information processing ability.

The findings? The busier you are, the sharper your brain is — especially in terms of memory, reasoning and information processing. While researchers said that staying busy seems to be good for cognition, it’s not the only factor behind mental sharpness. The sharpest people may seek more mental stimulation, or have more financial resources that allow them to stay busy.

Still, it’s more evidence of a link between an active life and cognition. A previous study published in the journal Neurology suggests that adults who engage in artistic and social activities may stay mentally sharp longer. Those who took part in activities and used a computer later in life were half as likely to experience mild dementia within four years as those who did not. After accounting for differences in gender and education, older adults who had artistic pursuits were 73 percent less likely to get mild dementia than those who were inactive.

So don’t shy away from a busy schedule. It can be one of your best tools for staying mentally sharp.