Challenge your brains to work hard at your job. A new study suggests that doing jobs that require cognitive engagement can protect against memory issues in the future.

According to the latest study published in the journal Neurology, actively engaging your brain in your profession can lower your risk of experiencing memory and cognitive issues as you age.

"We examined the demands of various jobs and found that cognitive stimulation at work during different stages in life—during your 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s—was linked to a reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment after the age of 70. Our findings highlight the value of having a job that requires more complex thinking as a way to possibly maintain memory and thinking in old age," said study author Dr. Trine Holt Edwin from the Oslo University Hospital in Norway in a news release.

The researchers used data from 7,000 people and examined 305 occupations in Norway. Their focus was on measuring the level of cognitive stimulation experienced by each participant in their respective roles.

The researchers assessed skill sets that different jobs demanded and categorized them into four types: routine manual, routine cognitive, non-routine analytical, and non-routine interpersonal tasks.

While routine manual tasks involve repetitive motions often seen in factory work, routine cognitive tasks include precise and repetitive activities like bookkeeping. Non-routine analytical tasks require analyzing and interpreting information creatively, while non-routine interpersonal tasks involve building relationships and motivating others. Examples of non-routine cognitive tasks are public relations and computer programming.

Based on the degree of cognitive stimulation at work, the participants were grouped into four. "The most common job for the group with the highest cognitive demands was teaching. The most common jobs for the group with the lowest cognitive demands were mail carriers and custodians," the news release stated.

The participants were tested for memory and thinking after the age of 70. Among participants with jobs requiring minimal cognitive demands, 42% were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. In contrast, among those with jobs demanding the highest cognitive engagement, only 27% were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.

The group with the lowest cognitive demands at work had a 66% higher risk of mild cognitive impairment compared to those with the highest cognitive demands at work after factors such as age, sex, income, and lifestyle were accounted for.

"These results indicate that both education and doing work that challenges your brain during your career play a crucial role in lowering the risk of cognitive impairment later in life. Further research is required to pinpoint the specific cognitively challenging occupational tasks that are most beneficial for maintaining thinking and memory skills," Dr. Edwin said.