For my own protection, I must tell you that this article is not meant to replace the advice of a doctor and you should always consult with a doctor before starting any sort of exercise regime.
Can It Be Done?
Are you born with a certain amount of intelligence or can you increase your intelligence through a series of mental exercises? Scientific studies are showing that certain mental and physical exercises can help increase intelligence in both children and adults. This is exciting news for everyone who wants to increase their brain power, but how comes everyone isn’t doing it?
The main reason why people all over the world aren’t actively increasing their intelligence is because it takes time, devotion, and can sometimes be uncomfortable. Some of the exercises in this article may seem almost silly and some of you will feel ridiculous following through with the exercises. However, the studies prove that these exercises do work in building more gray matter and increasing neural connections.
The only thing that can stop you from increasing your intelligence is you. All I can do is give you the exercises. It is up to you which exercises you choose to follow and how often you choose to do them.
What is Intelligence?
What is intelligence? There are many different opinions on what intelligence may be, however intelligence is basically the ability to adapt to your environment. Your ability to solve problems, to learn new skills, and to make necessary changes to how you are doing something marks how intelligent you really are. Intelligence is your overall awareness of your surroundings and has nothing to do with the knowledge of facts (memorization).
How Increasing Intelligence Will Change You
As you begin your intelligence training, you will find yourself changing the way you think and perceive your situation, your job, and other people. Your personal goals may also begin to change and expand into once unknown territories. Things that you found pleasant may suddenly seem boring to you. You will want more from yourself and more out of life. Your memory will increase and you will have increased focusing abilities. You may also see an increase in your creativity as learning new things will become easier for you.
These are all the benefits to increasing your intelligence, so let’s begin with the exercises.
1. Be a Baby
More and more studies are showing that adults can grow more gray matter in just a few hours by learning and interacting like a baby. A more recent study showed that adults can increase their gray matter in less than two hours by simply learning like a baby.
These simple little exercises should be practiced for at least 3 weeks to help boost your lower brain and increase the foundation for building the higher levels of your brain. This includes crawling like a baby and experiencing sights and sounds like a baby.
Practice crawling on the floor like a baby, with your stomach on the floor, for 5 minutes a day. Practice this type of mobility without thinking about it or coming up with a method on how to do it “properly”.
Some studies say that this should be done for 30 minutes a day for at least 3 weeks. Most people, however, won’t do this exercise because they feel uncomfortable crawling around on the floor. Set your initial target for 5 minutes a day. If you can, lengthen the amount of time you crawl by a few minutes a day.
This exercise is crucial for people who skipped the crawling stage as a baby or who weren’t allowed to explore their full range of mobility when they were first learning how to crawl.
Visually stimulate your brain with picture books. Borrow picture books from your local library. These can be images of art, cars, scenery, or any imagery that appeals to you. Look at each picture for just a few seconds before looking at the next picture. Your brain absorbs all it needs from those brief glimpses of the pictures. Try not to stare too long or analyze the pictures.
Explore touch. Once a day, set 4 items with different textures on a table. Sit down in front of the items and close your eyes. Explore each item with your hands, feeling the texture, hardness or softness. Don’t try to identify the item your are touching. Simply experience the feel of each item.
Sense of smell. Place 4 different spices, herbs, or flowers on the table and sit down in front of them. Close your eyes as you inhale and smell each item. Do not try to identify or name each item. Instead, only pay attention to the scent.
Sound. Once a day, explore a sound. Close your eyes and throw a ball. Listen to it as it bounces. Listen to water drip from the sink. If the neighbor starts to mow the lawn, take a moment to close your eyes and simply hear the noise it makes.
Experience taste. When you sit down to eat a meal, close your eyes and focus on the taste and texture of each item on your plate. Don’t try to identify what you are eating. Make note of the sweetness, saltiness, and texture of the food.
2. Deep Breathing and Meditation
Deep breathing brings more oxygen to the brain and can increase your brain functions almost immediately. Simple abdominal breathing for 20 minutes a day will also reduce stress and lower your blood pressure.Overall, deep breathing has been shown to increase brain size in adults and improve a person’s attention span.
Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Inhale deeply through your nose, expanding your belly as you inhale. Hold your breath for one heartbeat and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Feel your belly deflate as you exhale and hold for the count of one heartbeat. Repeat. Perform this exercise whenever you feel drained or overly stressed.
If you continue to practice your deep breathing exercises, you will soon be able to enter into a soothing, meditative state. Research is showing that meditation can alter the brain’s structure and improve a person’s attention span and decision making abilities. For best results, practice meditation for 15 to 30 minutes a day.
When was the last time you played at the playground? Research shows that playing stimulates the brain. It increases reasoning and problem solving skills, helps increase your creativity, and reduces stress. Studies are also starting to show that adult play may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Arrange a play date with your kids, grandkids, niece, or nephew 2 to 4 times a month. Take the child or children to the playground and enjoy an hour or three playing. Go on the swings, slide down the slide, and, if you are able, hang upside down from the monkey bars.
There are also adult playgrounds in certain metropolitan areas. Adult ball pits and adult preschools are gaining popularity as more studies show that play time for adults is healthy for the body as well as for the brain
4. Time to Color
It’s been all over the internet: an adult coloring book has made the bestsellers list. Adult coloring books are selling extremely well right now and for all the right reasons. Coloring reduces stress, helps to increase creativity, improves fine motor skills, and problem solving skills. Famous psychiatrist and psychotherapist, Carl G. Jung, used coloring as a relaxation technique and in Australia, adult coloring groups are meeting up for the sole purpose of hanging out and coloring in coloring books.
Buy yourself a coloring book (there are many adult coloring books on the market) or print off some free coloring pages from the internet. Set aside some time, anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, to color each day. Do it during your lunch break as a way to de-stress or do some coloring at night to relax. If you have children, spend time sitting at a table and coloring with them.
5. Classical Music
Commonly called the Mozart effect, there is a common belief that listening to classical music will make you smarter. Recent studies show that listening to classical music can increase a person’s concentration and spatial abilities. Some studies are also showing that the positive effect only lasts for about 15 minutes after listening to Mozart and can only increase a person’s IQ by one and a half points while other studies are showing that students who listen to classical music generally score higher on their SATs than students who don’t listen to classical music.
While the debate continues over whether or not listening to classical music improves one’s intelligence, it has been proven that learning to play an instrument does increase your intelligence. Studies are showing that learning to play a musical instrument can increase problem solving abilities, memory, and increased connections within the brain. Studies are even showing that children and adults who learn to play a musical instrument can increase their IQ by seven points. Even older adults, over the age of 65, can enjoy the benefits of learning to play an instrument.
Will reading a book really increase your intelligence? Yes. IQs have been steadily increasing among school students and some researchers and scientists believe this is because we read more than our grandparents did.
The debate is ongoing on what you should be reading to increase your intelligence. Some say that you should be reading literary classics and nonfiction works to increase your intelligence, while others state that any type of reading that engages the brain is good reading, including comic books and raunchy romances.
Set aside time each day to read.
7. Role Playing
Role playing if often used by therapists to help their clients work through problems. It gives the brain a way to work around its current emotional issues and to even find solutions to them.
Writers and other people can use role playing to their advantage by pretending to be a character or someone they admire. Doing this gives the role player a chance to explore new ways of thought, gain new understandings and perceptions, and build more neural connections within the brain.
Choose someone you admire and would want to be like. If you are an artist, choose another artist. If you are a writer, pick a famous author. If you are business minded, choose a successful business person. Imagine that you are that person for at least one hour a day and paint, write, work, or do some task that this other person is well known for doing. The more often you pretend to be this person, the more your own skills will improve and your own self confidence will increase.
8. Build Your Vocabulary
Building your vocabulary can raise your IQ by 10 to 20 points. This is a fairly simple exercise to follow because there are many apps and tools that can provide you with a new word to learn each day. Websites, such as Dictionary.com, also provide a word of the day. Choose one of these tools and begin to actively build your vocabulary.
Exercise brings more oxygen to the brain and improves its cellular integrity. The type of exercise you do doesn’t matter as long as your heart is elevated for a minimum of 45 minutes a day. This can mean taking a brisk walk, a jog, stair climbing, and even following an exercise video.
Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly have better long-term memory and problem-solving skills than those who do not exercise.
10. Try New Things
When you explore and try new things, you build new neural pathways in your brain. Trying new things often means stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Start small by taking online and offline courses to learn new skills. Check out the community events in your local newspaper to find events to attend, including art classes, nature walks and classes, and planetarium and astronomy presentations. Learn a new language or an instrument. Try a new sport.
11. Keep a Journal
Nearly all of the great geniuses kept journals, from Da Vinci to Einstein.
For this last exercise, buy a journal and start writing in it at least once a day, whenever you have the urge to share something. Use your journal to express your thoughts and feelings. Write down the many ideas you get during the day. Write about your dreams, your goals, and the things you fear.
Use a paper journal rather than keeping a computer or online journal. Paper journals won’t disappear when your computer dies. No one can hack into your journal entries if they are written on paper. Using a paper journal will also allow you to draw images and tape clippings from newspapers and magazines.
Bergland, C. (2014, June 25). Does Playing a Musical Instrument Make You Smarter? Retrieved April 28, 2015, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201406/does-playing-musical-instrument-make-you-smarter
DiSalvo, D. (2013, May 14). Breathing And Your Brain: Five Reasons To Grab The Controls. Retrieved April 23, 2015, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2013/05/14/breathing-and-your-brain-five-reasons-to-grab-the-controls/2/
Gladding, M.D., R. (2013, May 22). This Is Your Brain on Meditation. Retrieved April 23, 2015, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/use-your-mind-change-your-brain/201305/is-your-brain-meditation
Kuszewski, A. (2011, March 7). You can increase your intelligence: 5 ways to maximize your cognitive potential. Retrieved April 23, 2015, from http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/03/07/you-can-increase-your-intelligence-5-ways-to-maximize-your-cognitive-potential/
Reporter. (2011, April 6). Put the text books away: Adults 'can boost their brains in under two hours by learning like a baby' Retrieved April 23, 2015, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1374038/Adults-boost-brains-hours-learning-like-baby.html.
Robinson, L., Smith, M.A., M., & Segal, Ph.D., J. (2015, April 1). The Benefits of Play for Adults. Retrieved April 23, 2015, from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/benefits-of-play-for-adults.htm
Umapathy, K. (2015, April 21). Unleash your inner child. Retrieved April 23, 2015, from http://www.psfk.com/2015/04/adult-coloring-books-play-trends-johanna-basford-secret-garden.html
Wenger, W. (1975). How to increase your intelligence. New York: Bobbs-Merrill.
Yenigun, S. (2014, August 6). Play Doesn't End With Childhood: Why Adults Need Recess Too. Retrieved April 23, 2015, from http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/08/06/336360521/play-doesnt-end-with-childhood-why-adults-need-recess-too