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5 reasons why having fun makes you smart

Do not let your everyday routine rob you of your happiness, says Dr Alka Chadha.

Written by Bhavyajyoti Chilukoti |Updated : December 11, 2015 10:13 AM IST

Like to paint, but how often have you painted in the past one week?

Enjoy dancing, but have you danced your heart out in the last few days?

How many times have you laughed (or even smiled) during the day?

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Doing what you want to do is necessary for your overall health. Spending some time from your tight schedule to reinvent yourself with a long-lost hobby, joining a music class, playing an instrument, writing what you wanted to (or everything that you have done throughout the day) or even having sex is a great idea to activate your brain cells and improve your overall health, say Dr Alka Chadha, Counsellor for Mental Health Improvement.

Here's how recreational activities work to give you joy.

1. They help in releasing positive hormones: Indulging in fun activities like dancing, painting or singing increases the production of positive hormones, namely oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine. These are neurotransmitters that improve your brain activity. These compounds also help you to deal with stress and depression, as it increases the neuron connectivity, which in turn make you feel good.

2. They make you happy: Our brain has 100 million nerve cells, which are activated when you do things that make you happy. The neurons present in the brain connect with each other when you are happy, and this connectivity further makes you feel stress-free and relaxed. This is the reason you should have some fun in life like spending time with your pet or playing with your kids. Also read about live happy tip of the day.

3. They help increase white matter: Did you know that white matter is the key to improving your mental health? Found in the deeper layers of the brain, white matter comprises of neurons that improves transmission of nerve signals in the brain. The more the white matter you have, the more active is your brain and more smart you are. When you learn a new hobby or spend your time doing creative things like painting or DIY (do-it-yourself), the learning centre in the brain is activated. This causes connectivity of neurons and increases the white matter.

4. They improve overall health: When you learn a new hobby or play a musical instrument, all your senses are activated, improving your overall health. For example, if you play violin, your motor neurons are involved, and it also stimulates your visual centre and memory centre. It also activates the auditory senses and stimulates the occipital centre of the brain and in turn increases white matter. Moreover, learning something new inculcates creativity and imagination, which is essential for non-analytical reasoning by stimulating the frontal cortex.

5. They help you stay healthy as you age: Ensure you learn a new thing at every stage of life as it improves brain connectivity. Dr Alka says, This causes your brain cells to connect as if a party is going on in the brain. Lack of physical or mental activity prevents your nerve cells from connecting, creating gaps in your brain's white matter, leading to neuron dissonance as you age. This is the reason old people tend to repeat words. Also, as you age, white matter present in the brain decreases, which in turn puts you at a risk for mental disorders like Alzheimer s or Parkinson s disease in your old age. So to age healthy, ensure you have fun in whatever you do. Here are 10 secrets to falling in love with yourself.

Image Source: Shutterstock

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