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Your brain forms new connections over time based on your lifestyle and experiences to combat cognitive decline. These connections constitute your cognitive reserve, which, among other things, helps strengthen your grey matter. A crucial way to build up cognitive reserve is by engaging in leisure activities that stimulate the brain. Who would have thought that having fun could be so important for your health?

Four categories of stimulating activities to boost your cognitive reserve

An optimal level of cognitive reserve makes the brain more efficient at processing information and using cognitive abilities like memory and concentration.

1. Educational activities

Immersing yourself in a good book, taking a class, or watching a documentary on an unfamiliar subject enables the learning of new skills and promotes brain functions like attention.

2. Creative hobbies

Dancing, starting a craft project like pottery or knitting, or taking photographs activate cognitive abilities, such as organization and fine motor skills.

 3. Social and cultural outings

Volunteering, teaching, or visiting a museum is excellent for mental health. Whether in person or online, engaging in social and cultural activities may protect grey matter from age-related cognitive decline.

4. Games

Organizing a virtual chess tournament with family or doing Sudoku and crossword puzzles can stimulate reflection, alertness, memory, and problem-solving skills. Playing is important for adults, too!

Combined with eating right and exercising regularly, engaging in intellectually stimulating leisure activities is an effective way to maintain or improve cognitive reserve. It’s one of the keys to a healthy brain!


This article was written by the experts at Lucilab in partnership with Québec Blue Cross. To read the full article, visit the Québec Blue Cross website.

Updated: September 2021.