Keep Your Brain Healthy with the Power of Hobbies

Article by Caroline James




Image by  Pixabay


Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects more than 44 million Americans. Thankfully, medical researchers have developed a number of treatments for this crippling mental disorder. You may have read about many of them in various media sources. One PTSD remedy that receives scant attention, however, is knitting.


According to specialists interviewed by CNN, the simple act of turning yarn into handy accessories has potent therapeutic benefits. The same holds true for many hobbies and crafts. This surprising revelation offers promise to seniors who wish to improve their mental acuity, relieve symptoms of depression, and break free of harmful addictions.


Defusing a Ticking Time Bomb


Americans are living longer than ever before, thanks to modern medicine and healthier lifestyles. But this added longevity comes at a price. More than five million seniors suffer from dementia, a number expected to triple by 2050. Even older folks who keep their intellects sharp are prone to suffering from emotional maladies such as loneliness, which, surprisingly, isnít limited to those living alone.


There's a ray of sunshine under all that gloom, however. A growing body of evidence shows that activities like cooking, gardening, woodcarving, and even playing an instrument can delay symptoms of dementia for as long as five years. Seniors can use the added time to expand their horizons, engage in fun, fascinating activities, and even make make valuable contributions to society. The key to these transformative benefits is to inspire your brain to break out of its comfort zone.


Your Brain is Remarkably Changeable


Scientists used to believe that the mind stopped growing some time in late adolescence and then began a long, slow period of decline ending in death. That was before researchers developed tools to measure the plasticity of the brain. They discovered that people of all ages have the ability to generate new brain cells through a process called neurogenesis.


This is especially true for those who remain mentally active throughout life by learning new skills, pursuing passions, and challenging themselves to think in bold and unconventional ways; all benefits of recreational hobbies. But not all activities offer equal advantages. Here are five that stand out from the crowd for their brain-boosting effects:


1.     Learning a new language. Research shows that bilingual people show enhanced intelligence compared to their monolingual peers.

2.     Reading. Cracking open a book, any book, fills your mind with new information, stimulating it to form fresh neural pathways. So, whether you crave scandalous romance novels or straight and narrow Renaissance classics, there's a bright new world waiting for you in the written word.

3.     Meditating. This activity is of particular value for seniors struggling with emotional or substance abuse issues. Meditation promotes calmness and clarity, two valuable qualities by any standard.

4.     Playing an instrument. Learning to play an instrument can actually rewire the brain in many positive ways. Time recently ran a feature on the topic and itís a pretty interesting five-minute read.

5.     Exercising. A healthy body bequeaths a healthy mind. Those who stay in shape not only have more physical strength but more brainpower as well.


Maybe your favored activity isn't on that list. That's okay. Studies show that any hobby that challenges you to learn and reason offers benefits. Building models, telling stories, painting landscapes, doing yard work, and coloring pictures are easy for people of almost all skill and mobility levels. There is no reason to forgo pleasurable activities regardless of age. And, in doing so, you may find that your best years are still ahead
  The image used and the information provided is provided by Caroline James