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Back to School-Forward to Health!

Back to School-Forward to Health!

The days are getting shorter, and the back to school ads are filling the airwaves. Fresh starts, new learnings, and yet to be explored challenges are no longer the exclusive domain of the young.  More and more, life-long learning is shifting from the ‘nice-to-do’ to the ‘must-continue-to-do’ column of our life. Before you rush to invest in the latest online brain games, you might decide instead to simply take up a new hobby!  Could it be that simple?  Apparently so. Dr. Denise Park, a neuroscientist at the University of Texas at Dallas decided to put this to the test.  Dr. Park recruited 200 volunteers and assigned them to 3 different groups.  During a 3-month period, each group spent 15 hours per week with assigned activities.  They were given memory tests at the beginning and end of the research period. Group 1 took up new hobbies such as quilting and photography (including use of photoshop.) Group 2 participated in social events such as watching movies together and reminiscing about past vacations. Group 3 worked quietly on their own at home, listening to music or playing simple games or puzzles. Dr. Park’s findings revealed that not all activities are created equal when it comes to cognitive improvement.  Yes, social engagement is essential to quality of life and even longevity, but if you want to enhance those brain cells and improve your memory – you’ll have to take on new and challenging activities.  Moreover, the more challenging the activity, the better the results! With Dr. Park’s study, the group that showed the most significant improvement in memory was Group #1 – the group...