Play the Part

Challenge


You probably know that engaging your brain can keep your memory sharp. You’re learning how exercise and stress reduction can reduce dementia risk. You know that nurturing social bonds can also protect your brain health.

It can be overwhelming to think about making habit changes in all of these areas separately. What if there was one activity you could do that could impact your brain health in each area?

Community theater might be the answer. You don’t need any acting experience to join a community theater. You just need the time to rehearse and perform in a play.

How exactly can community theater impact your brain health? Playing a character in a community performance engages a variety of cognitive skills:

  • Learning a new skill like basic acting principles can reduce risk for cognitive decline.
  • Committing a role to memory is a type of brain training.
  • Determining the goals and motivations of your character stimulates the problem-solving areas of your brain.
  • Rehearsal and performance involves moving your body and improving your physical activity, a way to reduce your risk.
  • Involvement in a community group builds strong social bonds that can protect your brain.
  • Leisure activities can reduce stress and improve physical health.

Not sure how to get started? Search the internet for a community theater near you. Pick up the phone, give them a ring, and ask how you can get involved.

References

  • Fitzpatrick, T. R., Spiro, A., Kressin, N. R., Greene, E., & Bossé, R. (2001). Leisure Activities, Stress, and Health among Bereaved and Non-Bereaved Elderly Men: The Normative Aging Study. OMEGA - Journal of Death and Dying, 43(3), 217–245. doi: 10.2190/GU4Q-8W3E-21DE-0QFA
  • Najar, J., Östling, S., Gudmundsson, P., Sundh, V., Johansson, L., Kern, S., Guo, X., Hällström, T., & Skoog, I. (2019). Cognitive and physical activity and dementia: A 44-year longitudinal population study of women. Neurology, 92(12), e1322–e1330. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000007021
  • Park, D. C., Lodi-Smith, J., Drew, L., Haber, S., Hebrank, A., Bischof, G. N., & Aamodt, W. (2014). The Impact of Sustained Engagement on Cognitive Function in Older Adults: The Synapse Project. Psychological Science, 25(1), 103–112. doi: 10.1177/0956797613499592
  • Yeh, S.-C. J., & Liu, Y.-Y. (2003). Influence of social support on cognitive function in the elderly. BMC Health Services Research, 3, 9. doi: 10.1186/1472-6963-3-9