By Allison Avery
Updated: June 03, 2008

You know that your morning cup of coffee or afternoon soda can do wonders for perking you up.

But did you know that becoming emotionally involved in an issue can make you sharper too, sans the caffeine? “When youre engaged in something, your brain forms new neural connections—and the more and longer you get involved, the more those changes occur,” says John Roache, PhD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Center in San Antonio. “Its a use-it-or-lose-it situation,” he says. “The brain is always changing, turning over, and getting rid of unused neural circuits and tracks.” There is even some existing evidence that being actively engaged in something long-term can ward off dementia.

Get more brain power by giving in to your inner political junkie. If you only casually keep up with politics, for example, go ahead and dive in. Theres enough controversy and debate to make your head reel (and your brain work overtime).

Top 10 Tricks for a Healthy Body and Soul

9 Secrets to a Healthier Heart

Groove to jazz, learn tai chi, and cut your risk of heart disease, the top cause of death among women in the U.S. Read more.

Heart Health Step-by-Step

Nearly a half-million women die of cardiovascular disease every year, but they dont have to—the condition is largely preventable and treatable. Heres how to reduce your lifestyle hazards as well as your medical and genetic risks.

Two Little Steps to Less Stress

When you are under stress, your breath is shallow. These tips will help you reduce your stress, get more oxygen to your brain, and reduce your risk for stress-related complications.

This Is Your Heart on Aspirin

It seems like such a simple way to stay healthy: Just pop an aspirin and worry a little less about keeling over from a heart attack or stroke. Research suggests that aspirin may be a wonder drug for many women who arent taking it. Heres how to know if you are one of them.

Why Women Should Worry More About Heart Attacks

More than 450,000 American women die from heart disease each year. Here's what you need to know now.