Study offers more proof of mental fitness benefits

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It is widely believed that staying active mentally reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease. A new study lends further credibility to the notion.

Frequent participation in activities that involve mental processes was associated with a 50% reduction in the risk of Alzheimer's disease, according to researchers at Rush Memory and Aging Project in Chicago. Researchers studied more than 700 elderly people with an average age of 80 for up to five years.

The following activities kept the participants mentally active, according to researchers: visiting a library or museum; reading newspapers, books or magazines; attending a concert, play or musical; and writing a letter. These activities also helped reduce participants' risk of developing Alzheimer's and even helped protect against mild impairments, researchers said. The study is published in the June 27 issue of Neurology.