Turns out simple hobbies may have a powerful effect on the health of your brain, suggests new research published in JAMA Neurology.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic set out to measure whether five different activities had an impact on rates of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in a group of nearly 2,000 adults aged 70 and over. (MCI is defined as a condition which doesn’t interfere with daily functioning, but does affect memory, thinking and attention, and increases the odds of developing types of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease.)

The activities were computer use, crafting, playing games like chess or bridge, socializing, and reading books. After four years, the researchers found that, surprisingly, reading books didn’t make a difference, but participants who reported doing one of the other activities at least once a week were 20 to 30% less likely to have developed MCI over the course of the study.

If you’re younger than 70 and wondering how this applies to you, remember that these findings add to a large body of research showing that mentally stimulating activities can protect and build brain health throughout your life.

Read more on STAT.

Originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com