Busy People Have Healthier Brains
You ever feel like there’s not enough hours in the day?
We have presentations to finish, projects to complete, calls to make, papers to read, kids to pick up, and errands to run. Not to mention all the other aspects of our personal, professional, and social lives to manage.
Yeah, things can get hectic. But there might be a pretty big silver lining to constantly being on the go.
A new study – published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience – has found that busier people have healthier brains.
Brains on the Go
What do I mean by a healthier brain? Here’s the lead author of the study – Sara Festini:
“We show that people who report greater levels of daily busyness tend to have better cognition, especially with regard to memory for recently learned information.”
Sara and her colleagues showed that being on the go is associated with a stronger mind, especially when it comes to memory. But it’s more than just that.
The study looked at over 300 healthy men and women between 50 and 89 years of age. The study revealed better functioning at any age and this was regardless of education level.
People with busier lives also showed better brain processing,working memory, reasoning, and vocabulary skills.
This is excellent news for anyone worrying about staying independent and maintaining cognitive abilities. Memory, problem solving, and communication skills are a big party of staying a functional member of society.
This is good news for more than just those whom are trying to age gracefully.
It hints that staying mentally engaged in our lives has solid cognitive benefits at all ages. Other research has shown that mentally demanding jobs and activities can also help people retain their brain power well into their twilight years.
What could be the reason behind these busy bodies retaining their mental skills?
There could be a couple of factors driving the results. One reason might be that busy people seek and take on new challenges. This would require learning different skills, or employ different problem solving skills and strategies.
Another factor could be that busy people have the opportunity to be around and collaborate with others. Isolation and loneliness can drive depression and have other negative health effects. Being on the go gives them the chance to connect with other humans on a daily basis.
Here’s how the authors sum up their research:
“Overall, our findings offer encouragement to maintain active, busy lifestyles throughout middle and late adulthood.”
Too Much of a Good Thing
While their study shows positive results for maintaining your brain health, let’s not forget our fickle friend, stress. Busy is good, but being in a constant state of anxiety and pressure isn’t.
Being chronically stressed out can lead to depression, anxiety, and less than optimal brain functioning. If you feel yourself tensing up, or constantly worrying about how you’ll get everything done, you may need to slow it down a bit.
Not only should you be careful about overextending yourself, but remember that rest and relaxation are also good for a healthy brain.
I would also argue that you shouldn’t be busy for the sake of it. It’s the people who are actively engaged and act with purpose in their life that reap both cognitive benefits and the gift of a happy life.
Andres Nieto Porras