City folk like to look down on their country cousins for preferring a slower pace of life – but country people might actually be sharper for longer.
A study has found that living in the countryside preserves people’s cognitive abilities as they get older, according to analysis of 6,500 people in the UK.
Over a decade, country dwellers showed 4.6% less cognitive decline, the researchers say.
Researchers observed volunteers aged 56 to 68, testing their memory, verbal fluency and reasoning every three months.
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The researchers think that a more active lifestyle, lower stress levels and lower pollution may contribute to the effect, the Telegraph reported.
Carmen de Keijzer of the Barcelona Institute for Global Health said, ‘There is evidence that the risk for dementia and cognitive decline can be affected by exposure to urban-related environmental hazards, such as air pollution and noise, and lifestyle, such as stress and sedentary behavior.
‘In contrast, living near green spaces has been proposed to increase physical activity and social support, reduce stress, and mitigate exposure to air pollution and noise.’