Research in brain elasticity shows that as we get older, our ability to learn new things diminishes. But that doesn’t mean that adults can’t learn new skills or take up new hobbies to up their intelligence. On the contrary: brain scientists and health experts encourage people to keep their minds active. Doing so can help ward off illness, improve memory, and help you feel young and mentally flexible. So what should you take up to help boost your brain power? Here are three suggestions for hobbies that will make you smarter.
No, we aren't telling you to just ‘go’; but we are telling you to play it. You’ve probably heard of chess the strategy game (that is also likely to make you smarter), but perhaps you haven’t learnt about Go. Go is a traditionally Chinese board game that has been around for thousands of years, and it has increased in popularity tremendously in the last decade. Like chess, it is a two-player strategy game played on a square board, but Go has millions more possible moves and strategies than chess. (In fact, the pieces in Go have more possible positions than atoms in the universe.)
Find out more about Go here.
A recent study found that playing Go actually affects the structure of the brain and can help players with processing time-spatial information. Another study points out that Go requires high-level cognition—a definite workout for the brain.
Playing a Musical Instrument
That’s right: if you can play a tune, you can also tune up your brain a bit. Learning a musical instrument has been heavily researched and long-lauded as a great way to increase intelligence. Benefits to this hobby include increased visuo-spatial skills, a better capacity to take in new information, and improved memory.
Many positive effects of playing a musical instrument come from taking music lessons as a child, but a growing body of research has found that even if you’ve never touched a piano or a guitar before, starting to play an instrument as an adult is still beneificial! So whether you’ve got a few lessons under your belt or have never played a note before, it’s never too late to start learning.
While you may think exercise is only good for your muscles and metabolism, it turns out that exercise does a lot for your brain as well. Aerobic (heart pumping) exercise has been linked to executive functioning—a category of mental skills that include control, planning, and attention. Memory and fluid intelligence may also be improved with increased physical activity. Interestingly, one study found that children who walk to school even perform better at school than children who drive or take the bus. Best of all, exercise helps protect your brain in the long term while also improving your overall health; it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
If you want to do even more for your mind, take up a tactical competitive sport like tennis or basketball.
There you have it! Three new hobbies to try out and crank up your brain power. Whether you’re starting a band, going for a run, or challenging someone in a friendly game of Go, you can rest easy knowing your brain is working hard.