It’s common to think of intelligence as something that you’re simply born with. Some people, after all, make being smart look effortless.
Intelligence isn’t a set trait, though. It’s a changeable, flexible ability to learn and stimulate your brain that can improve over time. The key is to practice lifestyle habits that support and protect your brain.
Practicing certain lifestyle habits may help improve your overall intelligence, which includes two types:
- Crystallized intelligence. This refers to your vocabulary, knowledge, and skills. Crystallized intelligence typically increases as you get older.
- Fluid intelligence. Also known as fluid reasoning, fluid intelligence is your ability to reason and think abstractly.
Read on to learn what science has to say about the different ways you may be able to boost both your crystallized and fluid intelligence.
Staying physically active is one of the best ways to improve brain functioning.
According to a 2018 studyTrusted Source, light exercise promotes activity in the hippocampus, which is involved in memory. It also enhances the connection between the hippocampus and other brain regions that regulate memory.
A 2014 studyTrusted Source also found that exercise increases the volume of the hippocampus. The authors of the study speculated that aerobic activity promotes the growth of neurons, which boosts brain structure and function.
To enjoy the cognitive benefits of exercise, it’s important to do it regularly. The good news is that you don’t have to exercise vigorously to reap the benefits.
Beginner-friendly exercise ideas include:
Sleep is also essential for supporting optimal cognitive function. When you sleep, your brain consolidates memories you created throughout the day. It also enhances your brain’s ability to learn new information when you wake up.
Another way to become smarter is to practice meditation.
In an older 2010 study, meditation was associated with better executive functioning and working memory. These effects were observed after just four days of meditation.
A 2019 studyTrusted Source found similar results. After participants completed 8 weeks of 13-minute guided meditation sessions, their attention, recognition ability, and working memory increased. The participants’ anxiety and mood also improved.
The researchers speculated that these cognitive effects were due to the emotional benefits of meditation.
There are many ways to meditate. You can:
- use meditation apps
- listen to guided meditation videos
- attend a meditation class