A common activity is one of the best things you can do for your cognitive health.
We are living a lot longer than we used to these days, and while there are many benefits to a longer life, there are a few drawbacks, too. As more people live to an old age, more face the risks to mental and physical health that come with aging. Fortunately, there are steps we can take to reduce those risks.
You might be thinking about protective measures as you look forward to retirement in a few years, or you might be thinking about these risks at a younger age because of your family history. Personally, I’m in my early thirties but I’m already looking for ways to protect my cognitive health because of my family history of dementia.
My research has turned up a cool little fact: A very common and popular hobby is one of the best things you can do for your cognitive health. It combines several protective measures into one activity. And best of all, it’s highly enjoyable!
If you’re thinking the answer is “going for daily walks,” you do have a point. Taking regular walks is one of the most reliable ways to keep your brain sharp as you age. But the real answer is something else that might take you by surprise — participating in a book club.
What does a book club have to do with brain health? You might be wondering. But it makes sense when you consider that book clubs include 3 of the top recommendations for keeping your mind strong and healthy as you age.
1Strong social connections
Maintaining and strengthening social connections greatly benefits your cognitive health. In fact, socializing might be one of the best things you can do for your brain! (Who knew?) Here are the research findings:
Social engagement is associated with better cognitive and mental health. Research indicates that older adults are healthier and they live longer when they are socially engaged. In fact, social connection is believed to be a protective factor against Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. A book club is a reliable way to strengthen social connections.
Research supports this idea that reading can help improve memory and protect against dementia. Joining a book club is the perfect little nudge to help you stay on track with your reading goals.
Taking part in mentally challenging activities, such as taking a class or volunteering in a school, is hugely beneficial. Thanks to the complexity a structured, regular book discussion group, cognitive skills like visual comprehension, short- and long-term memory, attention to detail, and even math and calculations are all strengthened. A book club is an ideal format for the kind of intellectual growth and stimulation that benefits the mind.
Where can you find the combination of social connection, reading books, and lifelong learning? Short of enrolling in college courses (which is not a bad idea either!), book club is your best bet. Go ahead and join one, or start your own with a few friends. You’ll never regret it!