Keep yourself busy to boost mental health

Keep yourself busy to boost mental health

A study showed that at any age, a busier lifestyle can lead to superior processing speed of the brain.

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For older adults, an active lifestyle leads to better mental functioning. (Source: Thinkstock Images)

Are you over 50 and remain wearily busy? If yes, take heart. A new study says older adults with a busy daily lifestyle tend to have better mental functioning than their less busy peers.

The findings showed that at any age — and regardless of education — a busier lifestyle can lead to superior processing speed of the brain, working memory, reasoning and vocabulary.


“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,” said lead author Sara Festini, postdoctoral researcher at University of Texas in the US. Also, the busier an individual is, the better can be his/her episodic memory — the ability to remember specific events in the past.

Busy people are likely to have more opportunities to learn as they are exposed to more information and encounter a wider range of situations in daily life. However, it is also possible that people with better mental functioning seek out a busier lifestyle, or that busyness and cognition reinforce each other — resulting in reciprocal strengthening — the researchers said.


For the study— published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience — the team surveyed 330 healthy women and men aged between 50 and 89. The participants took part in a long series of neuropsychological tests to measure their cognitive performance.

“Living a busy lifestyle appears beneficial for mental function, although additional experimental work is needed to determine if manipulations of busyness have the same effect,” Festini noted.

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