If you don't use your mind regularly through activities such as reading, doing puzzles or playing a musical instrument, you risk losing some of your cognitive abilities as you age.
That's the message from a new study appearing in the June 19 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City found seniors who participated in mind-stimulating leisure activities had a lower risk of developing the brain disease dementia.
The researchers asked about a variety of activities, including playing board games or cards, reading, writing for pleasure, playing a musical instrument, doing crossword puzzles, participating in group discussion, dancing, doing housework, walking, swimming, biking, babysitting and participating in group exercise.
The cognitive activities that showed the greatest risk reduction were reading, board games or cards, and playing a musical instrument. Writing and participating in group discussions didn't reduce the risk of dementia. Physical activities, with the exception of dancing, didn't appear to greatly reduce the risk of dementia.