It’s never fun to think about cognitive decline. Life is hectic as it is, and we forget about things simply because there’s so much going on — so we want to preserve our memories as much as possible as we age. Which is why we’re paying attention to a new study that says there are six healthy habits that slow memory decline and decrease dementia risk.
The Chinese study took place over the course of a decade (2009-2019) and observed 29,000 adults aged 60 and older, tracking their progress or decline during the time period. It should be noted that 10,500 participants dropped out during the study because of death or simply because they stopped participating, but the researchers still used their data to reach the results. The six healthy habits in question are:
- Physical exercise: 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week
- Brain exercise: Doing something to stimulate the brain at least twice a week, like playing games or reading
- Diet: Eating the correct daily amount of at least seven out of 12 foods, including fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, dairy, salt, oil, eggs, cereals, legumes, nuts and tea
- Drinking: Consuming alcohol only occasionally or never
- Smoking: Being a former smoker who quit or never having smoked at all
- Social engagement: Connecting with others at least twice a week
During the study, researchers found that people with four to six healthy habits (the favorable group) and those with two to three (the average group) had slower rates of memory decline and were less likely to develop dementia than those who had only zero to one of the habits. The study is even good news for those who possess the APOE gene, which is a big risk factor for Alzheimer’s.
“These results provide an optimistic outlook, as they suggest that although genetic risk is not modifiable, a combination of more healthy lifestyle factors are associated with a slower rate of memory decline, regardless of the genetic risk,” the study authors said in the report.
We’re just happy to know that four out of these six habits will suffice, as we can’t imagine giving up our beloved martinis.