Busy Daily Schedule Linked to Sharper Mind in Old Age

'Busy Office Worker'

According to new research, being a busy person may help your mind stay sharp on the long run.

A study led by the University of Texas suggests that having a busy daily schedule stimulates the brain and keeps the mind sharp as we age. Scientists explained that having to fulfill multiple daily tasks challenges the brain by giving you the opportunity to learn new things.

Researchers noted that the benefits of staying busy held regardless of level of education and age. The study, which involved participants in their 50s or older, showed that those who kept themselves busy had better memories and cognitive function as they aged.

Researchers asked about 330 men and women with no history of cardiovascular disease to report their daily schedule and undergo several mental tests. The findings showed that people who had a busy lifestyle had also sharper minds regardless of their age. The research involved people in their 80s as well.

Respondents who had busier schedules could recall memories quicker and were able to better process new information. They also had a richer vocabulary and superior ability of reasoning than their more laid-back peers.

The study results were published this week in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

Dr. Sarah Festini, senior researcher involved in the study, noted that there is a significant link between higher levels of activity and better brain function. Plus, a busy daily schedule was especially tied to better ability to memorize recently learned things while the long term memory was also good.

Nevertheless, the research team acknowledged that they didn’t find a cause-and-effect relationship between staying busy and healthier brains. Instead it could be that people whose minds are sharper would rather be more active than their less sharp counterparts.

But there is a definite positive effect of staying active through old age for the brain. A researcher involved in the study said that people who would rather stay busy are able to learn new things as they get exposed to a variety of situations and people throughout the day.

And learning new things had been often tied to better cognition by past studies. A recent research even found that the effort to acquire difficult new skills including quilting pays off on the long run since it apparently improves episodic memory, or the ability to recall events in the past.

Prof. Denise Park, who was also involved in the study, was surprised to learn that so few studies have researched the impact of staying busy on people’s health, especially that having a busy lifestyle is so tied to modern life.
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