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Choose Stimulating New Hobbies
As long as it interests and challenges you, the particular pastime doesn't matter—it could be reading books in a genre you usually avoid, learning to play an instrument, or taking a new exercise class. A study by researchers at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons found that people with more than six intellectual, physical, or social leisure activities were 38 percent less likely to develop dementia—and with each additional hobby, their risk decreased by another 8 percent. The fresh neural connections established as you take in new information can help build up what's called cognitive reserve—the brain's ability to resist memory loss. And the sooner you find new passions, the better: A 2012 study conducted at the University of California, Berkeley, found that people who performed more mentally stimulating activities throughout their lives had lower levels of a certain destructive protein associated with Alzheimer's.