Feed your brain to stop the drain

You’ve seen what happens to a sponge when you leave it on the counter for a few days.

It dries out and shrivels up.

If you don’t let it absorb new information, your brain will act a lot like that sponge.

That’s why activities such as crossword puzzles and Sudoku aren’t just “a few minutes of fun,” and they’re certainly not “a waste of time.” They’re vital activities that can help stimulate your brain, especially as you get older.

But if you really want to give your brain something to absorb, according to the latest research, you should take up a new hobby to help protect your brain from the worst of aging.

Nothing gets your brain juices flowing like learning something new!

In the study, some seniors spent 15 hours a week learning quilting, photography, or both. A second group did less challenging activities, such as going to meetings where they spoke about travel and cooking.

Before the study began, the seniors struggled a bit on memory tests, as seniors tend to do. MRI scans showed that they had to use maximum brainpower on each question, even the easy ones.

But after 14 weeks of learning a new hobby, everything was changed.

The folks who’d taken up photography or quilting not only did BETTER on the tests, they also used LESS brainpower. In fact, their brain responses were more in line with what we see in young adults!

Yes, a new hobby doesn’t just make you FEEL young… it can actually make your brain ACT younger, too!

The MRIs also revealed that seniors who took up the new hobbies had more activity in key parts of the brain such as the medial frontal, lateral temporal, and parietal cortex.

Those are the parts of the brain you rely on for language and attention – and some of those folks had more activity in those key regions for as much as a year later.

Now, these changes weren’t seen at all in the folks who went to the social club – only those who took up the new hobby.

So, maybe it’s time to look for a new hobby of your own.

The study focused on quilting and photography, and both are great activities to try – especially photography, which has the side benefit of getting you outside and engaging with the world.

But really, any hobby will do – if it’s new to you, it’ll cause your brain to soak up new information and skills so IT stays young, and YOU keep sharp.