APR 18, 2024 8:00 PM PDT

Using Your Brain at Work May Lead to Better Health Later in Life

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

A new study published in the journal Neurology suggests that having a job that challenges your brain may lead to fewer thinking and memory problems later in life.

The study included over 7,000 participants and over 300 unique jobs. The cognitive demands of each job were measured based on the amount of routine manual, routine cognitive, non-routine analytical, and non-routine interpersonal tasks that were involved in each occupation. Examples of cognitively challenging jobs included occupations like teaching and computer programming, while less cognitively demanding jobs included occupations like custodial work and mail carrying. After the participants turned 70 years old, they were assessed for dementia as well as mild cognitive impairment, which is an early stage of memory loss.

The results showed that participants who had jobs with the lowest levels of cognitive demands had a 66% higher risk of developing mild cognitive impairment compared to those who had the most cognitively demanding jobs. In the group with the lowest cognitive demands, 42% had mild cognitive impairment, while in the group with the highest cognitive demands, only 27% had mild cognitive impairment.

The authors noted that these results stress the importance of both education and attaining a cognitively challenging job to ward off memory problems later in life. Job stimulation during participants’ 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s seemed to have a significant impact on brain health after age 70. Future research may help determine the specific tasks that are most beneficial for thinking and memory later in life. These tasks could then potentially be used outside of occupations to improve memory and brain health. These results have important implications not only for brain health but also for overall health and particularly heart health, which has been linked to brain health.

Sources: Neurology, Science Daily, AHA

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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