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Delaying Retirement May Be The Key To A Sharper Brain, Study Finds

Abby Moore
Author:
September 02, 2021
Abby Moore
mbg Nutrition & Health Writer
By Abby Moore
mbg Nutrition & Health Writer
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine.
Image by RgStudio / iStock
September 02, 2021

Look, we're not trying to disrupt anyone's planning, but if retiring in your 50s or early 60s is part of your agenda...well, you may want to reconsider the timeline. A new study published in the Social Science & Medicine: Population Health journal found that delaying retirement may be the key to a sharper brain.

Researchers from The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany analyzed data from the U.S. Health and Retirement Study, which encompassed 20,000 Americans between the ages of 55 and 75. They found that people who work until they're 67 years old may experience a slower rate of cognitive decline. 

It's not too surprising, given that the brain is a muscle that needs to be worked in order to function optimally. Whether that's through professional employment or other strategies, Dean Sherzai, M.D., and Ayesha Sherzai, M.D., neurologists and directors of the Alzheimer's Prevention Program at Loma Linda University, say optimizing executive function and challenging your mind becomes increasingly crucial in your 40s and beyond

During an episode of the mindbodygreen podcast, Dean said, "It becomes exponentially more important to challenge the brain around your purpose as you get older." Though the research is focused primarily on the benefits of postponing retirement, don't stress if you're under 67 and retired! 

"We say, 'Don't retire—rewire. Reconnect,'" Dean said. That could look like "managing a team, book clubs, card games, learning to dance, music, taking classes at any age... It should be about more complex things that you enjoy." Any and all of which can be taken up whether you're employed or not—but if your job gives you purpose and keeps you active each day, well, you may want to stick with it for the sake of your brain health. 

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