Brain training: science proves these hobbies make you smarter

You can become smarter during your downtime with these hobbies.

Senior man learning the guitar a hobby that can make you smarter

It’s one thing to look after your body through proper diet and exercise, and, true, your brain also benefits from these activities. But did you know you can also become smarter during your downtime too?

Here is a list of hobbies that science has proven will actually make you smarter.

1. Learn a new language.

Okay, so this may not be an ideal ‘hobby’ for many people, but if you’ve ever been interested in learning a second (or third) language, then now be the ideal time to take the challenge. Not only will speaking a foreign tongue improve your chances of getting along whilst you’re on holiday, but because the process of learning a new language involves analysing grammatical structures and learning new words, it also dramatically improves your brain health.

Studies have found that people with high verbal-linguistic intelligence excel at problem solving, planning and decision making.

2. Play a musical instrument

Playing music is a hobby many people may not be able to get their heads around, but the benefits for said heads are amazing. Playing an instrument helps improve creativity, analytical skills, verbal language skills, fine motor skills and even mathematics skills. It’s true that these skills can also be learned through playing team sports, but playing music, no matter how old you are, strengthens your corpus callosum – the part of your brain that assists memory, problem solving and overall brain function.

3. Read

Whether you prefer reading the financial section of the newspaper or the entire Funk and Wagnells’ encyclopedia (does that still exist?!), reading increases your brain functions in several invaluable ways. Reading, through the processing of new information, stimulates the growth of new neural pathways, and strengthens the part of the brain responsible for problem solving and pattern recognition. On top of that, reading reduces stress and it can refine your ability to empathise with others; it can also help to improve your memory and encourages imagination, of which we all could probably do with more.

4. Puzzles and games

You’ve no doubt heard that crossword puzzles can help keep your brain in great shape. Even though video games are nowadays being hailed as a brain booster, the fact is that any game which requires a modicum of thought will be good for your grey matter – be they crosswords, find-a-words, video games, Sudoku, chess or checkers, the list goes on. When you take in new information, remember past instances or react to different situations, you’re enhancing your brain plasticity and creating new neural connections. And the more you exercise your brain, the more functions it can perform.

5. Meditation and yoga

The practice of meditation not only reduces stress, but it can also give you more control over your brain. Working on self-improvement of the brain enables you to maximise your potential and improve your sense of self, power, confidence and overall wellbeing. People who meditate have better memories, will perform better in tests and have much greater focus and concentration. Don’t trust in all this new age mumbo jumbo? Well, even looking past the fact that meditation is an eons-old practice, scientific studies can also show you how meditation boosts your brain. And coupling meditation with yoga will benefit both your brain and your body.

Do you know of any hobbies that make you feel smarter? Why not share them with our members?

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    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    jalna
    24th Feb 2016
    12:10pm
    Singing is a great way to assist memory function, especially as part of a group or choir singing four parts a cappella. Committing both words and notes to memory is no mean feat when singing unaccompanied by instruments.
    Mar
    24th Feb 2016
    2:03pm
    Best thing I ever did was join a choir.
    cranky
    24th Feb 2016
    6:33pm
    I agree with all the above, but I get enough brain training trying to think up responses to the posts in here..

    I'll be on par with Einstein before much longer..I was going to say standing along side..
    ..but he's dead.
    Eclair
    24th Feb 2016
    9:38pm
    Many U3As offer these activities and learning opportunities. Check out your local one. I belong to a small (200 members) rural U3A and for $25 a year it offers nearly 30 activities. Our classes in French, Mandarin, drumming, book group, chess, scrabble, bridge, cryptic crosswords, and meditation all fall within those 5 categories. U3As are very affordable because they are run by volunteers. If you want to find your nearest U3A, go to www.u3aonline.org.au/find-a-u3a
    Mary Wild
    19th Aug 2016
    4:09am
    One of the most interesting research findings, published in Neurobiology of Aging, has shown that musical training, even late in life, could slow hearing loss and can positively impact many other age-related delays. Music is a particularly prevalent resource in treatment for those with Alzheimer’s. Read more about the way music may help you preserve memory and hearing as we age: http://www.hearlink.com.au/industry-news/can-music-positively-affect-hearing-and-memory/


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