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Elderly Can Keep Brain Healthy Just by Reading Newspapers or Writing Letters: Study

Update Date: Nov 27, 2012 06:11 AM EST

There are plenty of "brain training gadgets" available in the market which claim to reverse memory loss. However, these supposed "entertaining gadgets", which the companies claim are a good workout for the gray matter, are pretty expensive.

A new study claims that rather than buying such kind of gadgets and games, all one needs to do in order to keep the brain active and functioning right, is to pick up a pen and practice the forgotten art of writing letters, Mail Online reports.

According to researchers, board games like chess, reading newspapers and even watching a play can contribute to a healthy brain.

Lead author of the study Dr. Konstantinos Arfanakis from Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, and his team found that even though the brain does change with aging, one can maintain its health by regularly performing mental activities.

"Reading the newspaper, writing letters, visiting a library, attending a play or playing games, such as chess or checkers, are all simple activities that can contribute to a healthier brain," Dr. Arfanakis was quoted as saying by Mail Online.

For the study, the researchers studied 152 elderly participants (average age 81) from a project that looked at the risk factors for Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers asked the participants who did not have dementia to rate (on a scale of 5) the frequency with which they participated in a list of mentally engaging activities in the last year. The activities included reading newspapers and magazines, writing letters, playing cards and board games, the report said.

Also, the participants underwent brain scans, with the help of which researchers studied the movement of water molecules in the brain.

While in healthy brains, water cannot move freely, in aging brains, water can move freely in a perpendicular fashion.

The findings of the study revealed that people who undertake simple activities engaging the brain had effectively "younger brains."

"Keeping the brain occupied late in life has positive outcomes." Dr. Arfanakis said.

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