Working non-stop at your desk all day can be draining, but at least your brain is gaining a serious workout — regularly using a computer makes you 42% less likely to show symptoms of cognitive decline, according to new research from the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute. Your desktop provides enough stimulus to send your brain into overdrive, firing up your memory-making hippocampus to prevent your grey matter from aging. As compiled from Men’s Fitness, here are more tips for keeping your mind vigilant now, and long into retirement.
Make it a habit to take a brief, brisk walk during the day to significantly reduce your dementia risk, suggests a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Scientists say that walking at a power pace will improve your body’s blood flow, thereby eluding the condition. If you have a nine to five job, this tip is for you — without finding excuses. Walk to the bathroom that is furthest away to your desk and bring on the pace while you’re at it.
Learn a new language
We’re not suggesting you give up everything to learn Mandarin all day long, but catch this — learning a new skill for just ten minutes a day can help you stave off a cognitive slide, according to research published in the journal Neurology. In fact, the study finds that learning a second language through smartphone apps or taking, say French classes, a couple times a week may be more effective at fighting dementia than any available drugs.
Drop the cynical attitude
Finnish researchers find that cynics, people who generally see the worst in others, are more likely to develop dementia than their more trusting counterparts. Scientists don’t know exactly how pessimism is linked to dementia, but say that depression among cynics is likely to be playing a role. Evidence is mounting that your attitude affects your health, the researchers warn. Maybe spend time with people who are optimists, or generally anyone who makes you feel happier.
Watch your favourite sitcom
Spend 20 minutes a day laughing and you’ll boost your brain’s defense against dementia, according to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Fire up an episode of your favourite comedy after dinner — be it a ‘saas bahu’ serial or a stand-up comedy show, you’ll laugh and relax enough to lower the stress hormones, like cortisol, that contribute to cognitive losses and weight gain. Don’t waste time and tune into something you enjoy watching already!
Brush and floss every day
Ever wonder why people in toothpaste commercials look so perked up? It’s because keeping your oral health in good shape will fight dementia tooth and nail. Swedish researchers discovered that men who forget to floss harbour the bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis, which has been linked to cognitive impairment, which further leads to memory issues as one ages. A lot of us don’t pay much attention to the flossing part of things, and that’s where it all goes downhill. Research proves that flossing is as important as brushing, so invest in a dental floss soon.
Go to sleep early
Did you forget where the car keys are again? A research published in Learning & Memory suggests that getting less than six hours of sleep a night could lead to dementia. To prevent even more cognitive chaos, keep your sleep natural and avoid popping sleep-aid meds. Findings in JAMA Internal Medicine indicate sleeping pills can cause dementia by blocking the action of the sleep neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Make it a point to log in at least seven to eight hours of shut-eye each night to help your brain recuperate and keep it functioning optimally.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2016.