Giving your brain challenges it can really dig its synapses into—like puzzles, math problems, and memory games—really does help keep you sharp, says a landmark 10-year study. In 1999, subjects who did 10 to 12 one-hour sessions of brain exercises, e.g., memorizing word lists or finding number patterns, measurably improved their reasoning and processing skills. But here’s the kicker: The effects were still detectable a decade later. “On average, participants who got training in 1999 were still performing better on tests 10 years after we last trained them,” says study author George Rebok, Ph.D. “If you want to keep your mind stronger as you get older, you can’t become a couch potato.” That’s as close as it gets to a no-brainer.

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