For a long time, it was believed that people are born with a given level of intelligence and the best we could do in life was to live up to our potential. Scientists have now proven that we can actually increase our potential and enjoy ourselves in the process. We now know that by learning new skills the brain creates new neural pathways that make it work faster and better.
Here is a list of seven hobbies that make you smarter and why.
1. Play a musical instrument
Playing music may be on the top of the pyramid because it helps with creativity, analytical skills, language, math, fine motor skills and more.
While these are all great advantages, some people argue that playing team sports might do as many things. What playing musical instruments does that other activities don’t is strengthen the corpus callosum that links the hemispheres of the brain by creating new connections.
An improved corpus callosum helps with executive skills, memory, problem solving and overall brain function, regardless of how old you are.
2. Read anything
The benefits of reading are the same whether you are enjoying Game of Thrones, Harry Potter or the latest issue of the Wall Street Journal. Reading reduces stress, which makes you feel better about yourself, and increases all three types of intelligence — crystallized, fluid and emotional.
That helps with problem solving, putting different pieces of knowledge together to better navigate everyday life, detecting patterns, understanding processes and accurately interpreting and responding to other people’s feelings.
At work, this translates into better understanding how to make things happen and better managerial skills.
3. Exercise Regularly
The key word in this is ‘regularly’. A study on the acute bouts of physical activity and their effect on the cognitive performance of adults which found that submaximal aerobic exercise performed for periods up to 60 minutes facilitates specific aspects of information processing; however, extended exercise that leads to dehydration compromises both information processing and memory functions.
If we consistently incorporate exercise into our weekly routines, we can increase the brain’s cognitive performance. Choosing to walk, run, or do push-ups only once every month on the other hand will likely not yield favorable results.
Exercising regularly improves memory, charges cells with BDNF, and can help in the areas of concentration and understanding.
4. LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
Instead of whiling your day away on crosswords, teach yourself a new language. Studies state the ones who speak more than one language are better disposed to tackle puzzles than others.
It fine-tunes your brain and makes your memory sharper. Even your organizational skills will seem positively affected.
This also helps your resume significantly. So many jobs require you to know a language besides your mother-tongue. So, it’s a heavily win-win situation.
5. TEST YOUR CUMULATIVE LEARNING
Most of us are familiar with the concept of memorizing an endless number of pages before an exam. Often, we forget this information soon enough because we don’t really need it.
When you imbibe a new language, your intelligence shoots up because it requires cumulative learning. You learn words, punctuations, syntax, in a bulk and have to repeat it in order to retain it.
If you use this technique in your daily life, it will help significantly. Maintain a pocket-book to jot down things of importance, and keep going through those snippets in your free time.