As we age, everything in us ages, including our brain. We see that in our seniors whose memories slowly decrease, leading them to become more fragile than they used to be. Within the brain, the short-term functions are lost first, and when the right frontal region is deprived of more gray matter, the higher-level functions are finally affected. Brains do age, and that’s even without illnesses like dementia or Alzheimer’s.
“When people feel disconnected and separated, they are more susceptible to age-related declines in neural pathways. The researchers concluded that loneliness is not a reaction to dementia, but actually a cause of it.” –Marcia Reynolds Psy.D.
Recently, however, more and more studies have led to the discovery that aging can be possibly delayed or reversed by engaging in some activities, which we can consider as hobbies once we practice them regularly.
- Learn A Musical Instrument. Music therapy has long been one of the most common ways to beat stress and anxiety. Now, neuroscience claims that children and adults alike can benefit from learning to play an instrument in terms of brain deterioration. Regularly playing the piano, guitar, violin, and other instruments reportedly increase the amount of gray matter in the brain, leading to the growth of new neural connections. If this is done at an early age, children are said to excel in math, including equation solving and algorithms.
“Reading, doing challenging puzzles such as crosswords or Sudoku, debating issues with others who have opposing viewpoints, learning a new language or musical instrument, trying a new hobby, or teaching and tutoring others are all ways to maintain or improve your intellectual wellness.” –Marjie L. Roddick, MA, NCC, LMHC
- Open Your Unread Books. Research tells us that reading increasing cognitive function, and it doesn’t matter if you love the simplest comic books or the overly complicated mystery and love stories. There is still new information being absorbed through the stimulation of the brain’s neural pathways when one decides to read that book on the bedside table that you placed months ago. It exercises the brain, increasing imagination, and creativity. Speedreading is a method of processing sensory data quickly and efficiently.
- Exercise Regularly. Engaging in regular physical activity has always produced positive outcomes. It promotes normal blood flow and subsequently the regular transport of oxygen towards the entire body, including the brain. A particular protein, BDNF, is formed in the bloodstream with regular exercise, and when this protein is absorbed, it tremendously helps in boosting focus and memory.
- Do Breathing Techniques. You can do this by practicing meditation or yoga. These two practices both involve learning to breathe in patterns while toning the muscles with poses or through concentration. You also learn to have self-control, which, in turn, leads to better memory. The brain is healthy, with sufficient oxygen when breathing is mastered. Children who are taught to meditate or do simple yoga poses were found to have improved their behavior and mood after a few weeks. “Deep breathing encourages our body’s relaxation response. Other calming and stress-reducing activities include progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, Tai chi and yoga,” says Marla W. Deibler, PsyD
- Learn A Foreign Language. Studies prove that bilingual individuals have more gray matter in their brains compared to those who know only of one language. They can multi-task in areas such as reasoning, memory, and planning because they possess a more advanced brain. Recently, it has been discovered that trying to learn a new language at any point in your life has is similar outcomes as when someone is forced to learn a foreign language – you still become smarter.
- Play Puzzles And Crosswords. Let’s imagine our brain as if it were a computer – the more data you put into it, the more it becomes useful to us, and the more functional it becomes. If we introduce it with new exercises like crosswords and puzzles, the more information it can accommodate, the faster it catches up, and the more intelligent it gets. Its brain plasticity, or the ability of the brain to establish new synapses, is also heightened, as this is a result of individuals who regularly play strategic and mind games.
These and many more hobbies can play vital roles in assisting your brain to become quick and intelligent. They’re not very hard to try or keep up. It’s just a matter of commitment and the constant goal of growing old and growing smart at the same time!