Hobbies That Make Students Smarter

By Phill Powell

School’s back in session, and that means that moms everywhere are also thinking about school. And wondering how to help their kid or teen maximize his or her academic potential.

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Certain pastime activities can help us direct our mental energies more fully…with better results.

Turns out there are particular activities that can indeed make us smarter. Here are some fun ways young people can exercise their brains and stretch their intellects…

Be a Music Maker

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How It Makes You Smarter: Simply listening to music provides health benefits, but playing an instrument is a fantastic way to stimulate mental faculties and engage the brain. When you play an instrument, it uses several different types of skills (motor skills, math skills, analytical skills, etc.) plus unlocks personal creativity, which assists higher-thinking functionality.
Brain Benefits: Playing music also creates new connections between the brain’s twin hemispheres, by making the corpus callosum part of the brain stronger.

Challenge Your Brain

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How It Makes You Smarter: It’s one of the best ways to stay mentally fit. Challenge your intellect with some type of brainteaser and you’ll be sharpening your mind and creating stronger cognitive powers. Try board games, or card games, or video games. (Video games make you smarter, after all.) Or go with a crossword puzzle or Sudoku.
Brain Benefits: Working puzzles, etc. boosts neuroplasticity, which increases the brain’s ability to reorganize its information. This also helps your mind be more able to entertain different perspectives. It’s been proven that people with higher levels of neuroplasticity can learn faster and retain that data longer.

Learn New Languages

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How It Makes You Smarter: There’s almost nothing that puts your mind through its paces like picking up a new language. Intense memorization is required, of course, but there also the numerous nuances and specifics that make up a language. (Or if you really want to engage your brain, try to learn the most useful language of them all…)
Brain Benefits: A true mental workout, learning a language increases problem-solving skills and planning abilities, and also enhances your ability to track processes and follow what’s going on around you.

Practice Meditation

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How It Makes You Smarter: Meditation enables a person to “shut out the world” and focus inwardly, concentrating their energies in a calm and silent way. Those who regularly practice meditation credit it with numerous health benefits (such as lowering blood pressure), both mental and physical.
Brain Benefits: Many famous celebrities (Katy Perry, Clint Eastwood, Oprah Winfrey) swear by the mental clarity produced through meditation, including Apple founder Steve Jobs, who described meditation in his autobiography as, “Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before.”

Read Something (Anything!)

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How It Makes You Smarter: Instinctively we all know that reading makes you smarter, but did you know that it doesn’t really matter that much what you’re reading? Turns out the content of the material is secondary to the cognitive benefits that are generated.
Brain Benefit: Reading is a triple threat, boosting the three different types of intelligence (fluid, emotional and crystallized) found in the brain. It also helps you recognize patterns and solve problems.

Get Regular Exercise

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How It Makes You Smarter: Exercise has been shown to help improve a person’s mental acuity, but it needs to happen on a regular basis to achieve maximum good.
Brain Benefit: When you get regular exercise, a protein called BDNF is produced, and it helps you become mentally sharper and better able to focus on and understand new mental concepts.

Take on New Challenges!

An active mind is one that’s always taking on new mental challenges. Each summer, kids (ages 6-12) and teens (12-17) across the U.S. and Canada grow as students and individuals as they learn cool, cutting-edge topics at Digital Media Academy.

At DMA summer tech camps, you can explore programming and app development, digital filmmaking, game design, animation, music production, robotics and much, much more. Courses are led by industry experts, using the latest software programs.

Find your creative challenge at one of the incredible DMA camp locations.