“You’ll never see a chess player with dementia.”
This is an old saying among chess players ‘of a certain age,’ and while it is certainly false, it turns out that the link between “cognitive stimulation” and protection against brain-aging diseases may have some factual basis.
The Washington Post reported this week that researchers from the Rush University Medical Center (Chicago, IL) presented a study at this year’s Alzheimer’s Association International meeting, where they said that:
… combining five lifestyle habits — including eating healthier, exercising regularly and refraining from smoking — can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by 60 percent. A separate study showed that lifestyle choices can lower risk even for those who are genetically prelifestyle disposed to the disease.
The study authors tracked five lifestyle markers for the 2,765 study participants over a 10 year period: diet, exercise, smoking habits, alcohol consumption, and “engagement in cognitive stimulation activities.”
Participants who engaged in healthy versions of at least four of the behaviors listed above were 60% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s, compared to study participants who ticked none or one of the five boxes.
Another study, this one from the University of Exeter, found that even those with a genetic disposition to dementia could mitigate some of their risk by living healthy lifestyles.
So keep playing chess, CLO readers! Not only is it fun, but it might actually be good for your brain health too.