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Do brain exercises lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease?

Brain exercises may help lower your risk for Alzheimer's disease. Researchers have found that people who participate in cognitively stimulating activities such as reading newspapers, playing puzzles or going to museums reduce their risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.

Social engagement and social networks have also been shown to be related to cognitive performance. Adults who have a full social network and participate in many social activities tend to have less cognitive decline and a decreased risk of dementia than those who are not socially engaged.

Intellectual activities and social engagement may protect the brain by establishing "cognitive reserve." Optimal brain function can be strengthened and enhanced through regular mental and social "exercises," much like what we see when we exercise our body muscles. Less engagement with other people or lack of intellectually stimulating activities can result in less cognitive reserve, and lead to cognitive decline and dementia. Engaging in social and intellectual activities may offer protection from developing Alzheimer's disease dementia.
Anthony Cirillo
Geriatric Medicine
Experts suspect that brain exercises do help lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease. The experts theorize that these exercises, be they crossword puzzles or new languages, help to keep the brain nimble.

While this makes sense, studies are creeping into the literature, suggesting that brain stimulation does not delay or prevent the onset of Alzheimer's. Whether or not any of this works remains to be seen. It would seem to me that stimulating your brain, by whatever means, can only be a good thing.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.