Reading For Mental Agility

Reading For Mental Agility

Old people read alone...
Image-Ed Yourdon

Our brain needs a work out too to stay fit and healthy. Some people think we reach our mental capacity at around the age of 22 and everything starts to go downhill after 27. A depressing thought but we can help that with exercise too.

A new study from Rush University Chicago widely published in medical and news journals in the USA claims that reading gives us great mental exercise. Add writing and other brain activities and the work-out is complete.

The study found that those of us who read regularly into old age reduced their loss of memory or ‘memory decline’ by 32%. The decline for those who didn’t read and write later in life was 48% faster.

The research

The study questioned 294 people about their reading, writing and other brain activities throughout their lives including at their current age (in the 80s). After participants passed away, their brains were examined for lesions and brain plaque which indicate forms of dementia. The results above considered those who took part in these sorts of activities throughout their lives to produce the statistics.

Reading list


So here’s some suggestions to keep your brain active:

  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
  • Falling in Love for Life by Barbara ‘Cutie’ Cooper herself now 96 who was married for 73 years to the same man
  • Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • Warhorse by Michael Morpurgo
  • Birdsong and Charlotte Gray both by Sebastian Faulks (World War I & II)
  • Anything by P D James



What kind of books do you like to read? Let us know in the comments.  Also some research suggests that re-reading stories from our younger years can actually help turn back the clock by “thinking younger”. Interesting stuff.

Here’s more about dementia prevention with a series of videos from Youtube.