lifestyle factors

Active and Healthy Lifestyle May Help Offset Cognitive Decline

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A study looks at how a healthy and active lifestyle can impact cognitive decline. Justin Paget/Getty Images
  • A new study finds being active can help offset signs of cognitive decline.
  • A new study found being physically active, eating well, and avoiding smoking and alcohol can all help slow mental decline.
  • Even people diagnosed with dementia had less decline by taking on these healthy habits.

It’s well known that a healthy lifestyle can have a tremendous impact on our physical and mental health, and new research shows it may keep our brains sharper as we age, too.

The study, published in JAMA Neurology February 5, found that healthy lifestyle choices — being physically active, eating well, avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol consumption — may slow cognitive decline, even in people with neuropathologies like dementia.

More research is needed to understand why lifestyle factors have this impact, but

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Healthy Lifestyle Linked to Better Cognition in Later Life

Leading a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, eating fruits and vegetables, and minimal alcohol consumption, is associated with better cognitive function in older adults, new research showed.

The study, which combined longitudinal and cohort data with postmortem brain pathology reports, found that the association held even in those with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology, suggesting that lifestyle factors may provide cognitive reserve and improve cognitive abilities in older age.

“While we must use caution in interpreting our findings, in part due to its cross-sectional design, these results support the role of lifestyle in providing cognitive reserve to maintain cognitive function in older adults despite the accumulation of common dementia-related brain pathologies,” Klodian Dhana, MD, of the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, and colleagues wrote.

The study was published online on February 5 in JAMA Neurology.

Better Cognition

The study included 586 participants (71% female) who were followed from

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