18 February 2009

Grab a Book, Grab Your Knitting Needles, Grab Your Joystick?

What do reading, knitting, and computer games have in common? According to a US study, these activities are amongst the things that can keep dementia at bay. Yep, it's true. Now you'd expect reading a book to be good for your mind. That's a bit of a no-brainer (insert groan from the audience here). But quilting and knitting? Computer games? That is the message from a recent study anyway. What wasn't on the list? Watching more than seven hours of television a day. Seven hours? Wow! That seems like a lot of television. I think they need to clarify what you watch for those seven hours. Discovery Channel or the History Channel would be good for your brain, but reruns of Gilligan's Island (raises one eyebrow)?

Okay, seriously, though, more research needs to be done because the study is based partially on asking people between the ages of 70-89 what their lifestyle was like twenty to forty years ago. In other words, what kind of mental activities did they engage in from age 50 to 65? I don't know about you, but I have to wonder about the soundness of this information. This was a study involving a group of people who had already been diagnosed with mild memory loss. (Raises eyebrows) How do we know they remember what they were doing twenty to forty years ago? (Scratches head and furrows brow) Do I remember what I was doing twenty to forty years ago for mental stimulation? Hmm. And what makes them think there wouldn't be a little bit of white-washing of the old memory banks? Forget the hours in front of the telly and cast a hopeful, hyperbolic glance at the three or four books on the bookshelf that they think they might have read during that time. They look familiar, after all. You really have to question the memory of an octogenarian who recollects all those video games he played when he was fifty. What was he playing? Pong? More to the point, do you remember Pong? It was less stimulating than staring at a hospital vital signs monitor (whack to the head). Oh! That's probably what he remembers as playing computer games.*

Anyway the good news here is that doing something is better than doing nothing. Keep the body and brain alive by keeping them active. It's really just common sense. Keeping the brain active helps to keep the old synapses firing, and physical activity keeps the muscles toned and the heart in good shape. So get out there and get some mental and physical exercise. Heck, you can even use your Wii Fit games to be mentally stimulating at the same time as you're getting some exercise. Whatever you do, make sure it feels good and you don't overdo it. Check with your doctor, etc., etc., and all the other disclaimers that go along with making sweeping health statements in a public forum. AND because I care about you all, here is a link you might like to use. You might want to put it in your "favovites" or bookmark it so you don't forget where you found it. I'm just saying.



*Said octogenarian is a fictional character used to add humor (hopefully) to the article. How's he doing?

Editor of AGNADL

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