Health benefits of learninig languages
Or the wonder of brain gymnastics
I’ve been thinking about this ancient Greek fascination with keeping both mind and body sound that seems to have survived for centuries. Even today who of us wouldn’t want to go about looking like MichaelAngelo’s David or The Venus de Milo (with arms of course), and thinking like good old Plato or Safo herself? I know I would.
When it comes to the body we all have a notion of how to do this: nourish it with healthy food, rest it when needed and of course exercise it. We know the more we take care of our body the longer it will last, and the benefits of having a sound body, feeling good throughout our lives and activities, are pretty clear to us.
What are the benefits of working out our brains?
What about the brain? I’ve learned that taking care of your mind (or brain) works exactly the same way. We are supposed to nourish ourselves with intakes of information to have a healthy input of data to know the world a little better, we can rest it by practicing mindfulness, going on holiday or watching an entertaining show that keeps our focus off our problems for a while, so we can be sound and calm everyday. What are the benefits of working out our brains? And how exactly can we go about doing that? After all there is no gymnasium where one can hook their brain to an ethereal treadmill or enroll in imaginary weight lifting competitions?
IT KEEPS DEMENTIA AWAY
Just like with your body, the advantages of working out your brain include a sharper, fitter mind, capable of more and with a greater range of skills. Several studies have shown that in the exact same way as our physical self, using and training the brain makes it age slower and last longer, meaning: IT KEEPS DEMENTIA AWAY!!!!
Just as different physical exercise works different muscle groups and improves different physical skills, the mind can also benefit from a range of “exercise”. Problem solving is great to keep the mind entertained; a good old crossword to practice logic and learn new vocab; but my personal fav is language learning, which is a lot easier and faster to do than you might realize (3-ways-to-learn-a-new-language-fast/)
The reason is that because of the complexity of language and its elements, such as remembering new words, recognizing and reproducing unfamiliar sounds and picking up grammar and orthography, we use not one but several parts of the brain to be able to comprehend and reproduce it, some of them are Broca’s area: Located in the frontal lobe of the brain, Wernicke’s area: Located in the cerebral cortex, the Primary auditory cortex: Located in the temporal lobe, the Angular gyrus: Located in the parietal lobe of the brain, and of course working memory, not only that but using all these parts of the brain means that language learning involves information exchange between the left and the right hemispheres strengthening the corpus callosum, the nerve tract which connects them.
Learning a new language
Learning a new language is like learning how to juggle while whistling and standing one foot on a 3 meter-high monocycle, oh yes and keeping perfect rhythm. What does this mean for your brain? That just like when you hit the gym regularly and your biceps get bigger from lifting those weights, parts of your brain, such as the anterior cingulate cortex increase in size.
This results in acquiring really cool abilities that go beyond learning a new language. People who speak more than one language are proven to be more effective at problem solving, creative thinking and making friends since they have better interpersonal and communication skills,they are also less likely to develop dementia and more likely to heal faster from a stroke.
In this day an age where our minds are trialed with every day work and stress we have to make sure we keep them healthy and sound, so why not learn a new language along the way? Which one would you like to try? Have a look at the many languages you could learn with us (languagehub.co.nz/).
Author:China Gonzalez is a Mexican stand up comedian who lives in Auckland, New Zealand. She loves writing, making people laugh and languages. She is fluent in English and Spansih and has a basic knowledge of French and Italian, and she is part of the Language Hub team.