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Leisure Time and Having Variety of Hobbies May Stave Off Alzheimer's

January 07, 2002|Benedict Carey

No one can accuse Alzheimer's disease researchers of pushing a magic pill or simple solution. The best protection against the disease is apparently an extremely successful, creative and challenging life--with plenty of time for leisure.

After showing that well-educated, accomplished retirees have a less-than-average risk of developing dementia, researchers reported last week that leisure activities also guard against the disease.

Columbia University neurologists recruited a group of 1,772 mentally lucid New Yorkers age 65 and older and tracked them for up to seven years.

The retirees detailed their own interests and activities, from reading or visiting friends to seeing a movie or playing cards. After taking into consideration other influences, such as education and occupation, the researchers found that those who had more than six regular hobbies or leisure activities were more likely to do better on memory tests than those with only a few activities.The researchers don't know why the weekly bridge game might keep us lucid, but they suggest that activity itself might be a preservative.

Like the body, the mind seems to fare better when it's moving.

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Benedict Carey

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