Cognition can decline with age but it doesn’t have to. Nutrition, social activities, exercise, continued learning, and eliminating unhealthy habits like smoking show up in study after study as the major factors that predict whether people will maintain, or even grow their cognitive skills as they age, or decline.
Some of the most effective ways to maintain cognition are things we do anyway for fun and they don’t have to cost a dime. Fully 30% of participants in an 8-year study of 2,500 people aged 70-79 maintained or improved their cognitive skills over time.
People who maintained their cognitive skills throughout the duration of this study shared these 4 behavioral characteristics:
- Social Activity – participants that had regular social activity, like a weekly bridge group, religious or charity involvement, roommate, close friends and family, or even a Meetup group, were much more likely to maintain or grow their cognitive skills over time. Yale Medical Group has another publication that agrees with this finding.
- Physical Activity – participants who exercised vigorously 90 minutes or more a week were 30% more likely to maintain their cognitive function than those who did not.
- Stay in School – individuals with at least a 9th grade or higher education were 2-3 times more likely to retain their cognitive skills than those with less education. Those who retained their intellectual curiosity and continued learning throughout their lives did even better.
- Stop Smoking – smokers don’t just die younger, they also were more likely to lose their cognitive skills over time. In his book, Switching Off Chronic Disease, Dr. Rodier notes that smoking even 1 cigarette burns up to 50mcg of vitamin C –practically all of a person’s vitamin C if not supplementing, and as we mentioned in our sales newsletter this week, vitamin C is a crucial nutrient influencing cognition.