You’re looking at intellectual hobbies you might enjoy — because you need a sharp mind for the work you do.
And if you’re going to spend time and involve other people (i.e., competitors), you want it to be worth your time.
You have this in mind while asking yourself, “What hobbies can I develop?” and imagining the best possible result of mastering each one.
What exactly do all these intellectual activities do for the brain, anyway?
What Things Make You Smarter?
What makes you smarter? The answer is less complicated than you might think.
Any activity that activates your brain helps it grow stronger. Thanks to neuroplasticity, the more areas of your brain get involved, the more connections you make, and the stronger and more agile your brain becomes.
The hobbies most beneficial to your brain are those that contribute to one of the following:
- Activating both hemispheres of your brain
- Carving new neural pathways in the brain
- Exposing you to people who stimulate your mind
- Challenging you with new situations and perspectives
- Testing your knowledge and understanding
The more you take advantage of your beautiful brain’s ability to adapt, heal itself, and forge new connections and pathways, the richer your life becomes.
11 Hobbies That Make You Smarter
So, what are the top hobbies that make you smarter?
We’re glad you’re curious. Read on to learn more about 11 of the best options for building a better brain while having fun.
1. Read what interests you.
Besides being enjoyable, reading can stretch your mind and take it in new directions. Reading other people’s perspectives broadens your own.
And whatever you’re reading, as long as you’re enjoying it (at least a little), your brain is working to make sense of it and to make connections between it and what you already know.
It doesn’t have to be written for an intellectual audience. Genre fiction will work just as well as literary. So, read what you like.
The more you enjoy reading, the more you’ll read. And that’s what will help keep your brain young.
2. Meditate every day.
The sooner you build this habit, the sooner you can reap the benefits for your mind, body, and soul.
If you don’t know where to start, you can read a book, try out a new app, or even read a blog post about how to start meditating.
Choose the mediation method that suits you best since that’s the one you’ll have an easier time sticking with.
3. Exercise your brain.
Pick a puzzle to solve each day — whether it’s a daily crossword, a Sudoku puzzle, a jigsaw puzzle, or a word find. Or make time each week for games you can play on your own or with your partner, family, or friends.
Try a strategic game like Chess, Battleship, or Connect Four. Or, if role-playing games interest you, there are plenty to choose from.
Find something you enjoy, and that takes just as much time as you’re willing to give it.
4. Play a musical instrument.
Learn a new musical instrument or brush up your skills with one you’ve already learned, as long as you enjoy playing it. Playing a musical instrument lights up the corpus callosum, which spans both hemispheres of the brain.
That whole-brain activation leads to better memory, better executive functioning, and better reasoning skills.
Musicians are better at problem-solving, as well as planning and taking timely and purposeful action.
The key is to practice every day or more than once a week. That said, maybe stick with something that isn’t going to turn the neighborhood against you.
5. Participate actively in sports.
In particular, competitive sports get you thinking strategically, trying one approach after another until you find what helps you score a point and, eventually, win the game.
Whatever the outcome of a single game, your brain will thank you if you handle it like a winner, with grace and goodwill toward your competitor/s.
Athletes are known for having a special kind of intelligence, which they’ve developed by playing sports and watching others play. Regular participation builds competence, coordination, and self-confidence.
6. Play video games.
You read that right. Granted, some are better for your brain than others, but plenty of smart people play video games not only to unwind but to get their minds working differently.
It turns out, video games can improve your focus, memory, spatial reasoning skills, and ability to strategize.
And with the variety of gaming options available, it shouldn’t be hard to find something you’ll enjoy spending time with, whether you prefer to play alone or with a friend.
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7. Exercise your body, too.
Regular exercise helps clear your mind and keep it sharp, whether you prefer weight-lifting, yoga, running, dancing, or taking daily walks.
It doesn’t always have to be strenuous or even aerobic, though it’s good to challenge yourself and see what you’re capable of.
You don’t have to join a gym or aim for a specific fitness goal.
Spending some time each day on physical activity improves blood circulation to your brain and helps you feel better, physically and mentally.
8. Learn a new language.
You can probably think of a good reason to learn a new language: being able to communicate with native speakers in your community, preparing to travel to a country where that language is spoken, or just to challenge yourself.
Learning new languages improves your reasoning and problem-solving skills, as well as your ability to plan, take action, and follow through. Getting started is as easy as downloading an app like Duolingo or Babbel.
For extra help and to connect with other language-learners, sign up for a class.
9. Journal every day.
Writing down your thoughts and putting your feelings into words is a powerful way to keep your mind engaged and challenged.
The more you do this, the better your articulation skills and the easier it becomes to identify your own thought patterns and triggers, as well as what you truly want — and what you’d like to leave behind.
Writing about what you feel can help you improve your life by getting clear on what you’ve been holding onto and what you need to do to move on from it.
10. Travel and explore new places.
Exposing your mind to new places, new people, and new situations keeps your mind awake and curious.
There’s so much beauty out there to explore and so many people who know more about it than you do.
What you leave behind is just as important as what you gain from visiting and exploring a new place. Find a way to return the favor by giving as much as you receive from the experience.
Anyone can collect souvenirs and take pictures; make a mark that will last.
That mark goes with you everywhere you go. And it attracts others like it.
11. Try new recipes.
Cooking and baking both involve experimentation and learning how to plan ahead, calculate exact amounts for your ingredients, and modify your recipes to improve them.
The more varied your cooking or baking, the more you learn and the more fun you have.
You might discover you prefer vegetarian recipes, for example. Or you might develop a passion for a particular region’s recipes.
Always be willing to try new things at least once. And if you enjoy it, try your hand at making it yourself.
Play with recipes to tailor them to your tastes or to experiment with alternative ingredients. And share what you learn.
Are you ready to try some hobbies that make you smarter?
Now that you know 11 hobbies that can actually make you smarter, which ones, in particular, will help you enjoy your life more?
Which do you already make time for?
And which, if any, have you enjoyed since childhood? While they no doubt benefited your developing brain, it’s never too late to pick up a hobby that will sharpen your mind and keep it young.
What new brain-boosting hobby would you like to try this week?