It’s one thing to be physically healthy in your golden years, but having the mental capacity to fully enjoy those years is another matter entirely. Ideally, we’d all retain both as we age, but maintaining your mind isn’t nearly as simple as loading up on leafy greens and yoga poses.
A new report shows consistently activating your creative side could be a large part of this mental health puzzle. Authored by Mayo Clinic physicians and published in JAMA Neurology, the study followed nearly 2,000 elderly participants (aged 70 and up) with relatively normal mental abilities over the course of four years. The authors tracked how often the participants engaged in a number of activities including social outings, playing games, using the computer, and making crafts. Ultimately, they found that those who made art weekly saw their risk of cognitive decline decrease by roughly a third compared with those who only created something less than three times a month.
According to the study, you don’t need to be a professional artist to reap the benefits of creative activities. And for those of you who’d rather surf the internet than paint acrylic sunsets, good news: The study’s authors say computer use has comparable benefits. Essentially, as long as you engage your mind in creative ways, it seems you have a better chance of staving off dementia and similar forms of cognitive decline.
So the next time someone makes fun of your restoration work on a priceless 19th century fresco, explain that they just don’t know what’s good for them.