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How do the survey results match other research?
For some of those lifestyle factors we have good evidence for them being protective of our thinking skills. For some of the others, the evidence is not quite as clear.
For example, research studies do seem to support being physically active as good for thinking skills. That evidence comes from studies looking at everything from walking behaviour to more intensive keep  t or exercise-type activities.
There is also a lot of research exploring how mentally challenging activities might be good for thinking skills and it is common to see puzzles and games being reported as bene cial. That area is a little bit more complicated though, as the people who do those challenging things might be those who’ve been better able to retain their thinking skills. While researchers continue to explore those questions, people are certainly encouraged to stay mentally active;
if possible, taking up new and more varied activities appears to be most promising. For example, in own lab we found bene ts for some thinking skills when people with limited computing experience learned how to use a tablet computer in a class-based setting.
Other things that have some good support are getting enough sleep, to keeping socially engaged (or trying to reduce isolation and loneliness). Some studies have looked at how volunteering might be good for thinking skills as we age, for example.
The activities that might bene t our thinking skills could produce a very long list, and will likely be dfferent for each person depending on their previous experiences. A key thing to remember is that there is no single answer. Like many things to do with health, it is important to try to do a range of things that might keep us physically, socially and mentally engaged. We hope all those things might be good for our brain health,
and they are also the kinds of lifestyles linked to better quality of life too. In the end, each person will want to  nd those things that  t best into their routine and the things that are personally important, and at the same time are interesting enough to stick with.
What keeps you sharp? A national survey about what people in the UK think about their thinking skills
Global Council on Brain Health (2016). The Brain-Body Connection: GCBH Recommendations on Physical Activity and Brain Health.
Available at
Global Council on Brain Health (2017). Engage Your Brain: GCBH Recommendations on Cognitively Stimulating Activities.
Available at:
Vaportzis, E., Martin, M., & Gow, A. J. (2017). A Tablet for Healthy Ageing: The effect of a tablet computer training intervention on cognitive abilities in older adults. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 25, 841-851. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2016.11.015
Global Council on Brain Health (2016). The Brain-Sleep Connection: GCBH Recommendations on Sleep and Brain Health.
Available at
Global Council on Brain Health (2017). The Brain and Social Connectedness: GCBH Recommendations on Social Engagement and Brain Health.
Available at

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