Between the treadmill and the stair-stepper grab a book. The one muscle we often forget to exercise is the brain, and scientists keep confirming that it gets better with use.
“Anything like reading that stimulates your brain has got be good for you in a lot of ways. Just like doing puzzles is good for you if you want to put off the onset of dementia,” says Michael Smith, the owner of River Oaks Bookstore. Yale University researchers found reading works different parts of the brain than listening to music or watching movies does and requires more complex circuitry. In Chicago researchers at Rush University Medical Center find a link between exercising your brain with challenging tasks like reading slows the rate of decline in memory. “Reading fiction tends to create emotional responses in people. Real ones, as if something is really happening,” says Smith, who can surely recommend a great list of new and classic novels worthy of your attention. Recent studies on the benefits of reading find an improved attention span, better memory, and can lead to social interactions that last a lifetime.