Learn to quilt and keep your brain sharp

NPR published an article that 4 different people sent to me in different ways. The article's point was that you should learn to quilt and keep your brain sharp. I am really hoping that multiple people forwarded this to me because when they see the word "quilt" they think of me. There is the possibility that they thought, hmmm, Kathy's brain could use some sharpening. We'll ignore that possibility.

IMG_0579The idea is that if you had older people learn a new skill and then keep at it for 3 months, their brain's ability to retain memory and function cognitively all improved. And yes, that's yours truly involved in a new quilting activity. I got my longarm in June of 2010 and I am still trying to master it.

NPR gave an example of a man who learned how to quilt and kept at it. He did 15 hours a week for a period of 3 months and then took a memory test.

His results were compared with two other control groups. One group had fun with others and a third did puzzles and games at home alone.

The group that learned how to quilt, outdid the social group and the at home group. In the original article from Psychological Science they were surprised that there were no cognitive benefits from being social, they expected that there would be. SONY DSC

Quilting was not the only activity they taught with benefits. They also taught groups of people how to take pictures with a digital camera and then load the pics on a computer and manipulate them on Photoshop.

What I found most interesting was the wording in the original article explaining the type of activity which showed memory benefits. They said "sustained engagement in cognitively demanding, novel activities" was the key. Not computer games, incidentally.

Here is what I find significant in that statement - novel. In other words, new activities are what count. Son of a gun, I already quilt and take digital pictures. I also speak Spanish and French, other brain activities they recommend.

Do I have to find different cognitively demanding new hobbies? Or can I learn new quilting skills? For example, paper piecing. I've always avoided it but by golly, I will learn it if my memory depends on it.

I wish they would have used quilters who take pictures as the control group. The NPR article goes on to cite another study lauding the benefits of exercise for memory as well.

That study says the exercise needs to be 3 times a week. Wouldn't you know it, I only go to Aqua Exercise class two times a week.

My challenge, I think, it to continue to find new skills in quilting, delve more deeply into photo shop and exercise one more time a week.  I need your help, what activities in quilting do you think would be cognitively demanding plus new for me?

I've heard this kind of good news about quilting before and it makes me sew happy that my hobby is good for my brain.

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I wrote about this subject before. You can read that post here.

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    Kathy Mathews

    My passions are quilting and sewing. Add to that French, Spanish, books, swimming, travels, new restaurants, biking and chocolate and you have me. All of these are best shared with family and friends. Except for chocolate, I prefer not to share that. You can email me at QuiltingSewingCreating@gmail.com

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