This is a guest post by Nicole Eret, Assistant Coordinator, Harper College Motorcycle Safety Program.
Do you find yourself stuck in a rut? Wishing for better health? Craving a longer, more fulfilling life? You may be surprised to hear that learning new skills as an adult could be key in helping improve many aspects of your life.
First let’s look at the benefits of learning on brain structure and function, where we find some great news: once you start learning new skills, there’s a snowball effect that happens to allow you to learn even better. Learning increases myelin (white matter of the brain) and promotes endorphins (feel-good hormones) that result in higher learning capacity and speed. And as new pathways in the brain are formed through learning, the brain’s processing speed ramps up further.
Second, consider some of the general health benefits of learning a new skill. Remember those endorphins we mentioned? They can also help prevent depression. Adult learning can improve memory and head off dementia. Also, some research shows adult learners have a tendency to smoke less and exercise more. Not to mention that even in times when socializing can be more challenging, learning can still help your social life and longevity; being well-rounded gives you more in common with others, which can be the basis for beginning new relationship or enhancing existing ones. And those with more active social lives are twice as likely to outlive those who lead solitary lives. Remember, online learning involves a social component, too, so don’t think you need to learn in person to reap rewards.
Finally, there are a myriad of other lifestyle benefits of adult learning. Let’s start with the obvious: it breaks the monotony of always doing the same thing, behavior which can quickly lead to boredom. If you choose to learn something that can be applied to your work, you stand a better chance at increased pay and/or promotions. In any case, through learning any skill you become more adaptable to change, and change is inevitable. You’re also likely to see increases in self-esteem, independence, discipline, and motivation.
According to psychologist Kimberly Knull, “Research shows children learn new things on average every six months, but adults in their 50s and 60s only learn new things every nine years.” As adult learners we have the power to reverse this trend and make ourselves happier and healthier in the process. So sign up for a class today and design a database, create art, or ride a motorcycle to a better you! Or if you’re looking to start closer to home, try our Organizing: Paper Management at Home class.
Visit ce.harpercollege.edu to find your next class!