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10 Reasons You're Healthier Than You Think

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8. You read the newspaper this morning.

Your 20s and 30s are the best time in your life to build up brain reserve; you lose about 1 percent of your brain cells each year by the time you hit your 40s, says Zaldy Tan, MD, director of the Memory Disorders Clinic at the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston and author of Age-Proof Your Mind. Mentally challenging activities, including reading and playing musical instruments at least three times a week, can provoke the growth of new cells and connections in the brain. "Someone who does the New York Times crossword puzzle four days a week has an almost 50 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer's than someone who does it once a week," says Dr. Tan.

Top That: Take ballroom dancing lessons. A study at Albert Einstein College of Medicine found it may be the most effective exercise in warding off dementia. "Ballroom dancing works your body and your mind -- it may be you need both to offer your brain protection," Dr. Tan says.

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