How can you keep your brain’s ability to function as you get older? It’s probably a bit less work, a study shows.
Scientists suggest an average of 3 days’ worth of working hours would preserve brain capacity for those 40 and over.
The conclusion was published in a Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research report, which looked into how time at work may affect cognitive ability.
They found out that middle ages and over actually perform best at their job when they have four days off per week.
The conclusion came after researchers requested 2,965 males and 3,502 females Australian volunteers to do a set of cognitive tests that would determine their memory and reasoning ability.
The tasks involved text reading and numbers and letters matching to clarify their cognition capacity. As it turned out, those who work under 30 hours a week performed the best at the tests.
The situation was not that desirable for those who had to work more than that amount. The study found that those participants with longer working hours were more liable to stress and tiredness.
“This indicates that the differences in working hours are an important factor for maintaining cognitive functioning in middle and older adults,” the researchers summed up their findings. “In other words, in the middle and older age, working part-time could be effective in maintaining cognitive ability … Our study highlights that too much work can have adverse effects on cognitive functioning.”
The study also brought to light that those who were retired or unemployed enjoy better and healthier mental states than those who work 55 hours each week.
According to the study’s lead author, Professor Colin McKenzie, the effects on the brain that working may have could be beneficial and detrimental.
“While work can stimulate brain activity, long working hours can cause fatigue and stress, which potentially damage cognitive functions,” he said. “Full-time work (40 hours a week) is still better than no work in terms of maintaining cognitive functioning, but it is not maximizing the positive effects of work.”
It must also be considered that since the study was not conducted inside the United States or on American people, different factors may alter the trends, such as annual holidays.