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Boost Your Brain Power June 27, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Health & Wellness, Meditation.


Want to have fun while boosting your smarts?  Here are 5 hobbies that may boost your brain power:

Chess#1 Playing Chess ~ raises IQ, stimulates creativity, improves memory and concentration, and helps grow dendrites.

No, no . . . not dandruff.  Dendrites.

Hurry!  Dust off the chess board.  


#2 Reading & Writing ~ benefits cognitive abilities and creativity, relieves stress, stimulates the cerebral cortex, builds new synapses, expands vocabulary and knowledge base, and makes you better, faster, stronger, and more interesting to be around.

It does so!  Stop arguing with me and go read a book!  

220px-Alice_par_John_Tenniel_27#3 Exercising ~ reduces stress, improves blood flow to the brain (and elsewhere), releases feel-good neurotransmitters, and fertilizes the hippocampus causing it to grow bigger, better, stronger, faster.

No . . . not hippopotamus. Hippocampus.

Get out the dictionary.  Then drop and give me 20!

Woodstock-&-Snoopy2#4 Playing a musical instrument ~ listening to music is good for the brain, but playing an instrument is great for the brain since it requires both hemispheres to work together making you better, faster, stronger, and more coordinated.

I got rhythm . . . I got music . . . I got brain power . . . who could ask for anything more?

#5 Meditation ~ great for expanding learning, cognition, memory, empathy, compassion and more.


Aah . . . that’s better!



1. Ruth - June 27, 2016

Not knitting? Hope so.

nrhatch - June 27, 2016

Maybe. Probably depends on how you knit. If you follow the instructions to the letter, it is calming on the brain . . . like meditation. Less stress = more clarity.

If you don’t follow the instructions, and “make it up as you go along,” it may be like playing chess (or bridge) where you have to plan your “battle” strategy a few steps ahead and remember where you are . . . which improves memory and concentration.

To get an extra boost ~> play the harmonica while knitting. Get one of those mouth harp holders like Bob Dylan used to use.

2. Jill Weatherholt - June 27, 2016

Working out is definitely my best brain booster.

nrhatch - June 27, 2016

Working out works wonders! It eliminates physical and mental kinks. Less pain, angst, stress = more clarity. Plus it makes us HAPPY. And when we are happy, we think better!

3. Under the Oaks - June 27, 2016

I need to get off my butt while reading and hit the treadmill… it is too dang HOT to doing anything outside!

nrhatch - June 27, 2016

That’s a great idea, Pix. I used to cycle inside. Reading made the time go quick and made me stick with it longer. And I didn’t feel guilty about sitting on my butt reading since my butt was “in gear.”

4. Rainee - June 27, 2016

Lovely post Nancy and great images :). Reading and writing are definitely my favourites.

nrhatch - June 27, 2016

Thanks, Rainee. To the wonder of words!

Each of these activities has the added bonus of being a Good Mood Boost for me ~ except I play Bridge, not Chess.

5. Tammy - June 27, 2016

I like this post Nancy and am not surprised by the activities. I’m working on building a successful aging curriculum and think I’ll put these things in. Did you find anything about learning another language? Maybe that fits with reading and writing.

nrhatch - June 27, 2016

These 5 activities came from a short little “side bar” in a magazine on successful aging ~ so, perfect for your curriculum.

While writing the post, I expanded the list to include the notes about hippopotami, dandruff, etc. But I didn’t do any research to expand the list from 5 items to more.

That said, I’m 99.97% certain that learning another language would be akin to reading and writing . . . with even more benefits since a new language would create entirely new pathways and connections. Instead of just expanding vocabulary on the existing foundation, language learners would be building a new pyramid of words . . . with links to words in their native tongue.

The only caveat ~ it might not relieve stress if the learning is taking place “under pressure.”

6. William D'Andrea - June 27, 2016

I’ve played chess a few times in my life, but I’ve never really have all that much interest in it.
What does interest me is my writing. It’s everything you say. I never feel better about everything than when I’m in the middle of creating something new. Even writing a short message like this makes me feel good.
As for exercise, I walk about one hour a day, every day. I’m also taking nutritional supplements; which include One a Day Men’s 50 plus, which really adds to my vigor. I’ve seen One a Day Men’s 65 plus advertised. I wonder what that would do for me. Would I be Super Macho Man? Along with that I’m taking Probiotic tablets, containing 20 billion of whatever they are. Taken all together, this makes me a regular guy, who’s got it all together, and that’s no figure of speech!
I’m just wondering, what is a hippocampus? A place where gigantic, herbivores go to get an education? (I apologize for that one.)

nrhatch - June 28, 2016

Haha. Good one. No apology necessary.

7. suzicate - June 27, 2016

Dementia/Alzheimers runs rampant on both sides of my family, so I need all the help boosting my brain as I can get…though maybe I should check to make sure I have one first!

nrhatch - June 27, 2016

Keep up your quilting and your stained glass and we’ll soon be singing that song from Flashdance . . .

“She’s a brainiac. Brainiac. On the floor.
And she’s thinking like she’s never thought before!”

suzicate - June 27, 2016

Just signed up for mosaic classes, expanding my glass hobbies! I don’t think I’ll ever be called a brainiac, but one can dream!

nrhatch - June 27, 2016

Mosaics can be so gorgeous. Have fun with that, Suzi.

8. Eric Tonningsen - June 27, 2016

#4 Been there, done that, enough times to know that it is not appreciated by any, self included. The rest I am all for! I would add ‘travel’ if one is able; it can be quite stimulating.

nrhatch - June 27, 2016

Especially if one learns a foreign language to foster communication over seas!

Eric Tonningsen - June 27, 2016

Even better!

9. Debra - June 27, 2016

I have only one complaint here, Nancy. According to this list I think I my “smarts” should have been boosted a lot higher. But since these are areas that reduce stress, I’ll be glad for that benefit regardless of the measure of dendrite growth. 🙂

nrhatch - June 27, 2016

Haha! You iz smart enough!

It’s interesting how many things that are good for us are good for us in multiple ways. Exercise and Meditation being two prime examples.

10. beeblu - June 27, 2016

Have never got the hang of chess. I’m not terribly strategic.

nrhatch - June 27, 2016

I can play chess for fun. But please . . . no wagering!

11. Behind the Story - June 27, 2016

I at least dabble in four out of five, especially reading, writing, and exercising. I’m not a chess player though.

nrhatch - June 27, 2016

Same here, Nicki. I know “how” to play chess . . . but I’m not a “chess player.” But I don’t think this is an exclusive list, by any means. Just a few ideas for folks to consider.

Write on!

12. L. Marie - June 28, 2016

Good tips. That’s why it saddens me that so many kids stop reading books or stop being read to. Instead, I see young children being given tablets–not for books for games.

nrhatch - June 28, 2016

All of our nieces and nephews enjoy reading and also do lots of reading for school. Reading is to be encouraged . . . at any age.

13. diannegray - June 28, 2016

Check – for all of the above, Nancy. Unfortunately I can’t find anyone to play chess with these days because I’ve been playing since I was very young and, well, you know…, so I bought myself an electronic chess machine (LOL). 😀 I also think scrabble is good for the brain and doing crosswords (but I can’t find anyone to play scrabble with either) 😦

nrhatch - June 28, 2016

I love playing Scrabble. But, as you’ve noticed, not everyone is as keen on playing with words as we are.

A quick game that’s fun is Scram Scrabble.


14. Bun Karyudo - June 30, 2016

I haven’t been near a chessboard in a long time. I’m okay with the reading and writing. I’m not sure I can really call what I do with a guitar “playing.”

nrhatch - June 30, 2016

Some guitarists pick.
Others pluck & plunder.
Still others strum and hum.
And beginners hunt and peck.
There’s a learning curve, for sure.
And that curve gives your brain a boost.

It’s not “being good” at something that builds a better brain.
It’s the “getting better” stage that creates synapses & dendrites.

Bun Karyudo - June 30, 2016

Well, that’s certainly partially reassuring. I’m delighted to hear that I don’t have to be good to build a better brain. The bit about “getting better” is still a little unsettling, though.

nrhatch - June 30, 2016

Gotcha! I don’t think you have anything to worry about since your writing is getting better all the time.

15. Nick - June 30, 2016

No mention of diet, probably the most important factor of all. The human brain prefers to run on ketones rather than glucose. Dementia is the new “type 3” diabetes of the brain.

nrhatch - June 30, 2016

Yup. Diet, Exercise, and Sleep are 3 key elements to Health and Wellness.

16. livelytwist - July 2, 2016

Numbers 2,3 & 5. I played chess in my teens. Glad to know I’m still boosting my brain power.
I like that reading & writing makes you more interesting to be around. Quick, where is my book? 🙂

nrhatch - July 2, 2016

I expect that any hobby that makes us feel “engaged” benefits us at some level, but hobbies that make us think (or, in the case of meditation, not think) may be best for giving us a brain boost.

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