Taking part in a book club or language class builds brain strength in old age – but ‘brain trainer’ games might not help at all.
Regularly stimulating the brain with mental exercises and activities is important for improving brain health and protecting against dementia, a report found.
Everything from joining classes, to interacting with grandchildren, playing chess and gardening could help.
But there was little evidence that ‘brain training’ apps and computer games had the same effect, the report said.
Taking part in a book club or language class builds brain strength in old age
While people could improve their performance in a game by playing it regularly, there was little evidence they improved people’s everyday thinking abilities.
The Engage Your Brain report - an analysis of international research on brain health - was carried out by the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH).
It said age was no barrier to improving brain health, with mental stimulation having a positive effect no matter how old someone was.
The report said: ‘It is never too late to benefit from cognitively stimulating activities, and you can learn new things at any age.
‘In the same way that you need to maintain exercise for physical strength, you need to participate in mental activities to support the health of your brain.
‘There are many ways to incorporate such activities into your daily life. For example, deliberately engaging and challenging your brain over time - long after your formal schooling is over - results in better cognitive aging for adults.’