Crossword puzzles, sudoku, and listening to classical music won't keep your mind as sharp as you once thought. Instead you should take up photography. 

That's according to researchers at the The University of Texas at Dallas who found that people who only participated in passive activities such as playing games or listening to music got little memory benefit. However, learning photography showed significant gains in memory.

 Photographer Burl McDonald in Morro Bay, Calif. (Photo: Michael L. Baird,

More than 200 people who were over 60-years-old were split into various testing groups and asked to commit at least 15 hours per week to the activities. 

One group learned photography with digital cameras and imaging software, a task requiring remembering verbal instruction and complex reasoning. A second group learned quilting with computer controlled sewing machines, requiring abstract thinking to create patterns. Participants in other groups performed passive tasks such as playing games, telling stories, or going to museums. 

"Only the quilting and photography groups, who were confronted with continuous and prolonged mental challenge, improved their memory abilities," lead researcher Dr. Denise Park said. 

"It seems it is not enough just to get out and do something – it is important to get out and do something unfamiliar and mentally challenging."

Are you learning photography? What do you think? Let us know in the comments.