BBC News released an article: “Long hours link to dementia risk.”

Here are some excerpts:

[begin excerpts]

Long working hours may raise the risk of mental decline and possibly
dementia, research suggests.

The Finnish-led study was based on analysis of 2,214 middle-aged British
civil servants.

It found that those working more than 55 hours a week had poorer mental
skills than those who worked a standard working week.

The American Journal of Epidemiology study found hard workers had
problems with short-term memory and word recall.

<snip>

However, the researchers say key factors could include increased
sleeping problems, depression, an unhealthy lifestyle and a raised risk
of cardiovascular disease, possibly linked to stress.

The civil servants who took part in the study took five different tests
of their mental function, once between 1997 and 1999, and again between
2002 and 2004.

<snip>

The effects were cumulative, the longer the working week was the worse
the test results were.

<snip>

Professor Cary Cooper, an expert in workplace stress at the University
of Lancaster, said it had been long established that consistently
working long hours was bad for general health, and now this study
suggested it was also bad for mental functioning.

<snip>

Harriet Millward, deputy chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Research
Trust, said: “This study should give pause for thought to workaholics.

“We already know that dementia risk can be reduced by maintaining a
balanced diet, regular social interactions and exercising both our
bodies and minds. Perhaps work-life balance should be accounted for too.”

[end excerpts]

The article is online at:
<http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7909464.stm&gt;.

Courtesy of Ken Pope

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Engaging in a hobby like reading a book, making a patchwork quilt or even playing computer games can delay the onset of dementia, a US study suggests.

Watching TV however does not count – and indeed spending significant periods of time in front of the box may speed up memory loss, researchers found.

Nearly 200 people aged 70 to 89 with mild memory problems were compared with a group who had no impairment.

The findings are to be presented to an American Academy of Neurology meeting.

The researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota asked the volunteers about their daily activities within the past year and how mentally active they had been between the age of 50 to 65.
One million people will develop dementia in the next 10 years so there is a desperate need to find ways to prevent dementia
Alzheimer’s Society

Those who had during middle age been busy reading, playing games or engaging in craft hobbies like patchworking or knitting were found to have a 40% reduced risk of memory impairment.

In later life, those same activities reduced the risk by between 30 and 50%.

Those who watched TV for less than 7 hours a day were also 50% less likely to develop memory loss than those who spent longer than that staring at the screen.

“This study is exciting because it demonstrates that ageing does not need to be a passive process,” said study author and neuroscientist Dr Yonas Geda.

“By simply engaging in cognitive exercise, you can protect against future memory loss. Of course, the challenge with this type of research is that we are relying on past memories of the participants, therefore we need to confirm these findings with additional research.”

Sarah Day, head of public health at the Alzheimer’s Society said: “One million people will develop dementia in the next 10 years so there is a desperate need to find ways to prevent dementia.

“Exercising and challenging your brain – by learning new skills, doing puzzles such as crosswords, and even learning a new language – can be fun.

“However, more research, where people are followed up over time, is needed to understand whether these sorts of activities can reduce the risk of dementia.”

10/24/2006 *New York Times* includes an article: “Performance:
Researchers Test Meditation’s Impact on Alertness” by Eric Nagourney.

Here’s the article:

Meditation is often credited with helping people feel more focused and
energetic, but are the benefits measurable?

A new study suggests that they are. When researchers tested the
alertness of volunteers, they found that the practice proved more
effective than naps, exercise or caffeine. The results were presented at
a recent conference of the Society for Neuroscience.

(more…)

The 17 March 2008 issue of the *Los Angeles Times* included an article: “Exercise is good for the brain” by Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer.

Here’s the article:

WHEN he became a psychiatrist in the 1970s, John Ratey didn’t expect to
evolve into an exercise buff. But today, the Harvard University
professor and expert in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder calls
exercise the single most important tool people have to optimize brain
function.

If you get your body in shape, he says, your mind will follow.

(more…)