Keeping the brain active helps store healthy neurons which boost thinking skills, research has found. Other activities that improve “cognitive reserve” include volunteering, sporting or artistic activities, going to university, having a stimulating job, reading and gardening.
Continuing to learn over lifetime buffers against the memory-robbing disease – even for those who performed poorly at school.
The findings, in journal Neurology, are from 1,184 Britons born in 1946. They took tests when they were eight and again aged 69.
Lead author Dr Dorina Cadar, of Brighton and Sussex Medical School, said: “It indicates taking part in an intellectually, socially and physically active lifestyle may help ward off cognitive decline and dementia.”