Can exercising your brain really keep your mind sharp? Our Healthy Skeptic separates the truth from the rumors.
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Female Speaker: I enjoy playing scrabble from time to time. It keeps me thinking about words and its fun. Male Speaker: I do the Sunday crossword puzzle every week to keep my mind active. Robert Davis: It is an idea that's really caught on that exercising your brain regularly with puzzles for example, can keep your mind sharp and ward off dementia and alzheimer's disease and it's become big business. Male Speaker: Today, you can find video games, DVDs, and special software that promise to keep you mentally fit. There are also subscription websites which charge about $100 a year or an array of brain-boosting games. Robert Davis: In a way that makes sense, just as physical activity can keep your body strong, mental exercise can keep your brain in shape. But is it really true? Male Speaker: Studies show that brain training can help improve your memory but that's different from warding off dementia and people who do stimulating activities like reading, learning a new language or playing a musical instrument have lower rates of dementia and alzheimer's. But, this doesn't necessarily prove cause an effect. So the bottomline, the jury is still out. Still it's a good idea to keep your mind active but you don't need to spend a lot on special products. Anything from crossword puzzles to challenging board games can do the trick. Perhaps the best thing for your brain is regular physical activity. Research shows it can help improve older people's ability to remember and process information more quickly. Robert Davis: So next time you forget where you parked your car, don't sweat at, just use it as an opportunity to go for a walk. Your brain will thank you. For more information on brain exercise or if you have a claim you'd like us to check out, visit our website, everwell.com, helping you be a healthy skeptic, I am Robert Davis.