Scientists answer: Which leisure activities are associated with a lower risk of dementia?
According to a recent meta-analysis recently published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, leisure activities like reading a book, practicing yoga and spending time with family and friends can help reduce the risk of dementia. The meta-analysis reviewed existing studies on the effects of cognitive, physical and social activities on the risk of dementia.
“Previous studies have shown that leisure activities are associated with various health benefits, such as lower cancer risk, reduced atrial fibrillation, and a person’s perception of their own well-being” , said study author Lin Lu, Ph.D., of Peking University Sixth Hospital in Beijing, China. “However, there is conflicting evidence for the role of leisure activities in preventing dementia. Our research found that leisure activities like doing crafts, playing sports or volunteering were linked to a reduced risk of dementia.
In the meta-analysis, 38 studies from around the world including over 2 million adults without dementia were reviewed. Participants were observed for at least three years.
Participants gave information about their leisure activities through questionnaires or interviews. Leisure activities are those in which individuals participate for their enjoyment or well-being. Scientists have classified leisure activities into one of three categories: social, physical and mental. 74,700 people developed dementia throughout the studies.
After controlling for age, sex and education, the researchers found that leisure activities were associated with a lower incidence of dementia overall. Compared to people who did not participate in leisure activities, the risk of dementia was reduced by 17%.
Mental activities consisted mainly of intellectual activities such as reading or writing for pleasure, watching television, listening to the radio, playing games or musical instruments, using a computer, and doing crafts. According to the researchers, these activities reduced the risk of dementia in participants by 23%.
Physical activities included walking, running, yoga, swimming, sports, cycling, using exercise equipment, and dancing. Researchers found that people who participated in these activities had a 17% lower risk of dementia.
Social activities primarily referred to activities that involved communicating with others and included attending a class, volunteering, joining a social club, visiting relatives or friends, or participating in religious activities. Researchers found that people who participated in these activities had a 7% lower risk of dementia.
“This meta-analysis suggests that being active has benefits, and there are many activities that are easy to incorporate into daily life that can benefit the brain,” Lu said. may reduce the risk of dementia. Future studies should include larger samples and longer follow-up time to reveal more links between leisure activities and dementia.
The study was limited by people reporting their own physical and mental activity, so they may not remember and report the activities correctly.
Reference: “Leisure Activities and Dementia Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” by Sizhen Su, Le Shi, Yongbo Zheng, Yankun Sun, Xiaolin Huang, Anyi Zhang, Jianyu Que, Xinyu Sun, Jie Shi, View Profile ORCIDYanping Bao, Jiahui Deng, and Lin Lu, August 10, 2022, Neurology.
The study was funded by the Natural Science Foundation of China, the China Association for Science and Technology, and the PKU-Baidu Fund.