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AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jan Aubrey sorts her blanket squares to finish her latest peice for charity on February 7, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. Jacinda Ardern announced she and her partner Clarke Gayford are expecting their first child in June. The announcement has inspired the KnitForJacinda movement, encouraging knitters around the country to create baby clothes to donate to charity. The Green Bay community knitting group has been knitting for charity for the last four years, donating their work to children in foster care, new born units at the hospitals as well as dementia patients. The ladies meet Wednesdays and Saturdays. One day is spent knitting for charity the other is for their own knitting. A lot of the wool they use has been donated over the years including from deceased estates and bank grants. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Want to protect your mind from dementia? New research reveals some actionable steps to do it. Physical and mental activities, like doing household chores, exercising, and visiting loved ones, may help lower the risk of memory loss, according to an 11-year study from the U.K. of more than half a million people.

The research finds that certain basic activities are linked with a lower risk of dementia. Exercise seems to have the biggest impact, as participants who frequently exercise had a 35% lower risk, while those who frequently do chores around the house had a 21% lower risk and people who visit daily with friends and family had a 15% lower risk.

Key findings from the study include:

  • Keeping the brain stimulated is essential – Putting your brain to work can help delay the onset of dementia or lower the risk of developing it. Chores do double duty as both a physical and mental activity and can sometimes even be considered exercise. Visits with loved ones are a social activity that also stimulates us mentally.
  • Physical activity provides a double benefit for dementia risk – Diabetes is a risk factor for dementia, but exercising not only helps cut the risk of dementia, but it also helps cut the risk of diabetes, too.
  • It’s never too late to implement these changes – No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to start following these lifestyle recommendations. Dr. Scott Turner, director of the memory disorders program at Georgetown University Medical Center recommends doing as much as possible with lifestyle changes to avoid and prevent dementia, and points out, “Prevention is better than treatment.”

Vacuuming doesn’t seem so bad if I think of it as dementia prevention instead of housework.