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NOV

Overachievers Keep on Overachieving

Filed Under: Sexual Health at 1:24 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Crossword PuzzleOverachievers – we hate them, even if we are one of them. They are the students in class who constantly made us feel like slackers. They are the siblings that outshone our accomplishments simply by existing. Today, they are the co-workers with the neatest desks, the impeccably organized drawers and the nauseatingly perfect track-records. They give new meaning to impulse control, self-discipline and delayed gratification. They are the epitome of conscientious, and we have always envied them for it. They have, in our eyes, less of everything that muddles our lives – less chaos, less anxiety, less turmoil, less failure – and now it seems they have one less thing: less chance of developing Alzheimer’s

From 1994 to 2006, researchers tracked the cognitive progress of 997 Catholic clergy members. At the start of the study, none of the participants showed signs of Alzheimer’s or any alternative form of dementia. At the conclusion, 176 had developed the disease.  After comparing the rate of occurrence with the results of a prior “conscientiousness” survey, it was found that those who were the least conscientious were more than two times as likely to have Alzheimer’s.  That means that those who described themselves as constantly striving for excellence, working hard to accomplish goals, clean and consistently reliable had a lower risk. Scientists are not sure of the correlation’s causes. They theorize that it may have to do with brain structure or the overall habits of conscientious individuals (they are less likely to smoke, stop exercising etc.). Whatever the reason, this group of people, these overachievers, have a better chance of a more mentally alert old-age.

Now, if you’re realizing that you are not one of the lucky few, that your habits are more irresponsible than responsible, don’t fret. You can still lessen your chance of developing Alzheimer’s, simply by aging healthily. Take care of your cardiovascular system, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, control your blood pressure and cholesterol, and give your mind the occasional workout. Studies have shown that brain activities, such as puzzles, can slow the progression of cognitive diseases. You can also, if you want a little added insurance, take vitamin E or gingko.  Research on both is inconclusive, but extra vitamins in your diet (within moderation) can’t hurt.

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