New research claims having a hectic schedule could actually help boost brain connections.
While a busy lifestyle is often associated with negative health repercussions, a study by the University of Texas claims that it could help prevent cognitive decline.
Researchers found people with hectic schedules had better processing speed, working memory, episodic memory, and reasoning and language skills, which were independent of age and education.
The study, which was titled, ‘The Busier the Better: Greater Busyness Is Associated with Better Cognition’, looked at 330 people aged between 50 and 89 and assessed various cognitive abilities including working memory, episodic memory, reasoning, knowledge and processing speed through a questionnaire. The researchers also assessed their lifestyle and daily activities. Those with busy lives scored well in the tests.
Researchers aren’t exactly clear on the link between activity levels and cognition. On the one hand, being engaged in lots of activity may boost cognition, but it might also be the case that those who perform better cognitively are therefore more able to carry lots of different activities.
The study could be a sign that as busyness can promote opportunities for learning, that is what is slowing the loss of neurons in the brain’s memory, and helping to maintain it. It could also be because busy people encounter more complex situations, where they have to really think about how they can balance one activity with another, or solve an ill-defined problem, which could help to promote cognition. Plus, if you’re busy, you’re often having to remember a multitude of different appointments.
However, it’s also important to clarify the difference between busyness and activity, and stress. If you’re so busy that you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed, depressed or anxious, this could start to impact negatively on your memory. The key is to find a balance. It also explains why ensuring that a loved one with memory loss is kept active, engaged and learning can be of benefit for them – not just for preventing boredom or boosting mood, but also for slowing memory loss.