It can seem as though dementia strikes at random, but researchers are learning that is not necessarily the case. While we can’t always control everything that happens to our health, the good news is that there are proactive steps you can take to lower your dementia risk. And one of them might surprise you.
A recent meta-analysis of 38 research studies, published in the online journal, Neurology, shows that over 2 million participants in the various studies were successful at lowering their risk of dementia by participating in leisure activities.
The participants in the various studies were followed for a minimum of three years. Tracking their habits and then later assessing them for the development of dementia revealed that those who engaged in leisure activities such as making crafts, volunteering, or playing sports reduced their risk of dementia by 17 percent when compared with participants who did not regularly engage in leisure activities.
The type of activity also appears to matter. Mentally stimulating activities, such as reading, painting, doing crossword puzzles, or playing a musical instrument resulted in a 23 percent lowered risk of dementia.
Physically stimulating activities, like yoga, walking or jogging, cycling, or swimming resulted in a 17 percent lowered risk of dementia.
And social activities, like taking classes, volunteering, or participating in a religious group helped participants achieve a 7 percent lowered risk of dementia.
And for more good news: All of the above activities benefit you in many other ways. So whether you want to reduce your risk of dementia, or feel healthier and happier in retirement, leisure activities are healthy pursuits for anyone! Just check with your doctor before beginning any strenuous exercise plan.