By now you know you need to workout your brain just like you need to workout the other muscles in your body. Let’s talk more about the details.

Working out your brain builds up something called cognitive reserve. You can think of it as your brain’s ability to function normally even after damage has occurred. It’s like a shield that can deflect the impairments related to the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Cognitive training helps your brain build up its reserve. This means that the more you train your brain, the less likely it is to respond to the plaques and tangles that can cause Alzheimer’s disease.

But training your brain can take a variety of forms. Do you like to read? If so, you’re in luck. Reading of any kind is considered a form of cognitive training.

All reading is good for your brain, but reading novels and non-fiction books is more protective of brain health. In a study that examined reading and cognition, people who didn’t read at all had significantly more cognitive decline. People who read newspapers only had slightly more cognitive decline than those who read books.

Are you ready to give your library card a workout? Set a goal for how many books you’d like to read and try to stick to it. One book a month is a reasonable goal for a busy person.

Not a reader? Try reading the book version of one of your favorite movies.

Do you have a grandchild, nephew, or young neighbor? Ask their parents if you can read them a book one afternoon. A Japanese study found that reading fairy tales aloud improved cognition in patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.