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Watching football good for the mind: dementia expert

Watching football can be good for mental wellbeing, a dementia expert says.

Professor Alistair Burns said older people in particular can benefit from watching classic football matches such as England’s 1966 World Cup final victory.

Burns, who is NHS England’s clinical director for dementia, said several members of the golden generation of 1966 have experienced dementia, with winners Nobby Stiles and Martin Peters currently living with the condition

“Although fans may not feel it this week, football can be good for your nerves. The beautiful game really can help your mind and body,” he said.

“As well as being great physical exercise, there is a positive link between watching classic football matches and keeping the mind active.

“For people in old age and dealing with dementia, re-watching matches can rekindle past memories, connect people with their past and keep the brain active.”

Burns said the power of sport can stimulate emotion, which can be revived many years after the event.

Emotional memory, which is one of two main types of memory in the human brain, can be more powerful than memory for personal events, so as people in later life relive exciting or tense moments it can stimulate memories, potentially strengthening brain activity.

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