Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of progressive conditions that affect the brain.
The condition occurs when a person’s brain cells stop working properly in specific areas, which affects their ability to remember, think and speak.
Common symptoms of dementia include memory loss, confusion and problems with speech or understanding. This gets progressively worse over time.
Dementia can affect a person at any age but it’s more common in people over the age of 65.
Researchers are working to figure out who is more at risk and what factors could help lower their chances of developing the disease.
A new study published in the journal Neurology has found that doing leisurely activities can help reduce a dementia risk by up to 23%.
The research found that hobbies such as making crafts or playing an instrument can help lower the risk of developing the brain degenerative disease by nearly a quarter.
Physical activities such as walking, swimming or cycling lowered the dementia risk by 17%.
Those who are more social can lower their dementia risk by 7%.
By engaging in some mental or social activities you can help to build up the brain’s ability to fight the disease.
Activities such as crosswords, learning a new language or even just reading are said to be highly beneficial to brain health.
“This means doing these activities may help to delay, or even prevent dementia from developing,” said the Alzheimer’s Society.
The health charity added: “Find activities you enjoy that challenge your brain, and do them regularly.
“This could be puzzles or crosswords, but there are also many other activities you could do.”
These types of activities are great for engaging the mind, processing information and developing your thinking skills which is “good for the brain and reducing your risk”.
“Previous studies have shown that leisure activities were associated with various health benefits, such as a lower cancer risk, a reduction of atrial fibrillation, and a person’s perception of their own well-being,” says study author Dr Lin Lu PhD, of Peking University Sixth Hospital.
Dr Lin Lu added: “However, there is conflicting evidence of the role of leisure activities in the prevention of dementia.
“Our research found that leisure activities like making crafts, playing sports or volunteering were linked to a reduced risk of dementia.”
Other ways to help lower your dementia risk include:
Eating a healthy, balanced diet
Maintaining a healthy weight
Keeping alcohol within recommended limits
Keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level.