How Social Activity Can Benefit Cognitive Health


You meet up with a friend for a brisk walk on a nice morning. Afterwards, the two of you head off to a coffee shop to sit down and chat, catching up with all the latest on each other’s families, favorite TV shows and more.

Sounds like a pretty nice morning, and in addition to a pleasant time with your pal, it’s also beneficial for your cognitive health.

Regular socializing has mental health benefits for people of every age, but for older adults, it can also have a positive impact on cognitive health as well.

Last year, researchers at Penn State University conducted a study on the topic and found that social interactions could even have immediate benefits. From the article on Penn State’s website:

“In a study led by Ruixue Zhaoyang, assistant research professor of the Center for Healthy Aging at Penn State, the researchers found that when adults between the ages of 70 and 90 reported more frequent, pleasant social interactions, they also had better cognitive performance on that day and the following two…

‘The fact that we found that the cognitive benefits of having pleasant social interactions could manifest over such a short time period was a happy surprise and could be a promising area for future intervention studies,’ Zhaoyang said.”

The findings build upon earlier research, as noted by the AARP, that surveyed women in the senior age demographic, in which, “The results showed that women with the larger social networks were 26 percent less likely to develop dementia than those with smaller social networks. And women who had daily contact with friends and family cut their risk of dementia by almost half.”

There are a few theories as to why socializing might have an impact on cognitive health:

  • It’s in Tandem With Healthy Behaviors

Exercise and fitness are vital elements to cognitive health, and many older adults participate in healthy activities with others. Whether it’s exercise classes, walks, golf, pickleball, or something else, the physical aspect of those activities done with others help stimulate the brain.

  • Conversation Lights Up The Brain

Catching up with a friend requires the brain to put in work. It takes in the information they say and formulates responses, doing so perhaps hundreds or thousands of times over the course of the visit. Doing that over and over again can help keep the brain sharp.

  • Mental Health is Cognitive Health

The strength of the relationships we have in our life is a leading factor in our mental health, and mental health can have a direct impact on our cognitive abilities. By maintaining existing friendship, or creating new ones, it brings fulfillment and can help our brains stay healthy.

It’s for those reasons that the isolation and loneliness felt by so many older adults can have such critical impacts in all facets of our life, including cognitive health.

Cognitive Health at Prestige

In our communities, we place an emphasis on fitness and wellness done in a group setting, while also creating event calendars designed to build friendships and encourage joy and camaraderie.

For more about how our communities support cognitive health, you can contact the location nearest you to talk to a team member.