How Being Busy Benefits the Brain

The Dallas Lifespan Brain Study studied 300 people between the ages of 50 and 89 years old and found that a busy schedule was associated with better brain processing, memory, reasoning and vocabulary.

The research team hypothesized that a busy schedule might correlate with an engaged and active lifestyle, which they believed would lead to better brain health. In order to prove their hypothesis, the team administered an assortment of cognitive tests and the Martin and Park Environmental Demands Questionnaire (MPED). The MPED yields one score for busyness, which measures how often participants have too many tasks to complete or too little time in the day, and one for routines, which was not used in this study.

The results showed that participants who were busier, as shown by a greater busyness score on the MPED, had faster processing speed. These participants also had better working (short-term) memory, episodic memory (memory of events) and reasoning.

Even after controlling for age and education among participants, there was significant variance in cognitive abilities. Busyness accounted for this variance across all cognitive aspects, especially episodic memory. Lastly, the researchers found that busyness proved to have the same amount of benefits regardless of age, proving that an active, engaged lifestyle is healthy for brains at any age!

The research team noted that while many studies have assessed the benefits of brain-engaging activities, few have explored the brain health benefits of busyness, which often has a negative connotation. They are hoping that this study paves the way for future in-depth research.

Although being busy may lead to better brain health, it is important to note that long-term stress can negatively impact attention, memory, learning and more. As part of a well-balanced and healthy lifestyle, reduce stress and promote calm by trying 15 to 20 minutes of yoga three times a week. To learn more about the benefits of yoga, visit our blog, “Yoga Can Help Manage Mild Cognitive Impairment”.