math problems kid russiaVasily Fedosenko/REUTERS

Brain-boosting activities don't have to feel like homework. Science increasingly shows they can be fun little hobbies you add to your daily routine.

As we get older, we all want to make sure our brains stay sharp — especially since doing so can help prevent memory loss and ward off diseases like Alzheimer's.

Scientists have tested whether different activities can improve brain power, and they have some good news: Certain things really can help boost our mental abilities.

It's important to note that this research is usually based on specific patient populations for limited amounts of time. It can also be tough to measure how people's brains might improve in real life compared to in the lab, if that's where the study took place.

But these 7 ways to give keep your brain active have — unlike a lot of misleading claims out there — all been supported by robust research.

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