Many people think intelligence is something that’s fixed. You either have it or you don’t! However, the brain is far more adaptable than one might think. Certain activities and habits have been shown to actually increase your IQ!
In this article, we’ll explore actionable steps you can take to increase your IQ, but first, let’s review what IQ means.
What Is an IQ Level and How Is It Determined?
IQ stands for intelligence quotient. It’s a measure of an individual’s mental ability and how it compares to that of others.
Determining your IQ entails taking a specific test that includes a series of questions and problems related to math, language, memory, and reasoning.
There are many kinds of intelligence, but IQ tests only measure two: crystallized intelligence and fluid intelligence.
Crystallized intelligence encompasses the knowledge and skills you’ve gained throughout your life, while fluid intelligence refers to your ability to reason and solve problems.[*]
An average IQ score is around 100. Only a small fraction of people have an IQ below 70, which is considered very low, or an IQ above 130, which is considered very high. Those with an IQ of 160 or over are considered geniuses.
How to Improve Your IQ
IQ is certainly an interesting concept, but it’s not the only indicator of a person’s intelligence. For instance, research shows that IQ tests don’t effectively measure creativity, emotional intelligence, or critical thinking, all of which can add to a person’s intelligence and influence their achievements.[*]
That being said, if you’re looking to boost your IQ, research shows that consistently doing the following activities can raise your score.[*]
#1: Memory Activities
Memory activities can not only improve memory, but they’ve also been shown to enhance reasoning and language skills, both of which are used as intelligence markers.[*]
Some activities that involve memory training include:
- Doing number puzzles (like Suduko), jigsaw, or crossword puzzles[*][*][*]
- Playing chess[*]
- Playing memory card games, such as Concentration
#2: Visuospatial Reasoning Activities
Visuospatial reasoning, also called “visual thinking,” refers to a person’s ability to identify visual and spatial relationships among objects.[*] Reading and interpreting a map is one example of visuospatial reasoning.
Research has found that improving visuospatial reasoning can increase a person’s IQ test scores.[*]
Some activities you can do to improve this skill include:
- Navigate a maze (either in person or in an online game)
- Use a map instead of GPS to figure out how to get from point A to point B
- Try 3D puzzles
- Build something
#3: Learn How to Play an Instrument
You don’t have to become the next Jimi Hendrix to benefit from learning to play a musical instrument.
A study in adults found a positive relationship between the duration of musical instrument practice and executive functioning.[*] Executive functioning is a set of mental skills that include working memory and flexible thinking.
Children can benefit as well. In a 12-week study involving preschool-aged children, just 75 minutes of music lessons per week significantly increased IQ scores.[*]
And, get this: just listening to music has been shown to improve children’s verbal IQ scores.[*]
#4: Continue Your Education
Thinking about going back to school? It’s never too late, and it could boost your IQ!
In a review of studies involving over 600,000 people, researchers found that participants experience a boost of one to five IQ points for every year of formal education they complete.[*]
#5: Engage in Physical Exercise
Everyone knows that physical exercise is a pillar of good health, but did you know that it can also increase your IQ?
In a landmark study involving over one million young men, researchers found a clear link between physical fitness and better results on an IQ test. The strongest links were found for logical thinking and verbal comprehension.[*]
The researchers theorize this could be because physical exercise promotes oxygen flow to the brain.
#6: Get Enough Sleep
While sleep won’t necessarily increase your IQ, not getting enough could knock some points off your score.
In one study, missing an hour of sleep caused sixth graders to temporarily lose two years of cognitive maturation and development, lowering their IQ to that of a fourth grader.[*]
Take steps to ensure a good night’s sleep, such as limiting screen time in the evening and making your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark.
#7: Eat a Nutrient-Rich Diet
The foods you eat play a significant role in keeping your brain healthy and can even improve specific mental functions, namely memory and concentration.
While the following foods haven’t been studied in relation to IQ specifically, they have been thoroughly researched for their brain-boosting benefits:
- Fatty fish: Salmon, trout, herring, sardines, and other fatty fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for learning and memory.[*][*][*]
- Flaxseeds: Not a fan of fish? Flaxseeds are a rich plant-based source of omega-3s.
- MCT oil: Medium-chain triglycerides have been shown to improve memory, cognition, and brain energy.[*][*]
- Blueberries: For being so tiny, blueberries sure are powerful! A review of 11 studies suggests blueberries improve memory and other cognitive processes in children and older adults.[*]
- Dark chocolate: Chocolate lovers rejoice—chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or over is rich in flavonoids, an antioxidant plant compound. Flavonoids have been shown to enhance memory and slow age-related mental decline.[*][*][*]
- Nuts: Nuts have been linked to sharper memory and a lower risk of cognitive decline.[*][*] These brain benefits are likely due to their high content of healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamin E.[*][*] Stick to a small handful daily, though, as nuts are quite caloric.
If you’re looking to get several of these brain-boosting foods in one place, consider IQBAR. These keto and vegan protein bars are called “IQ” Bars for good reason! They contain six brain-boosting nutrients, including MCTs, lion’s mane, omega-3s, flavonoids, vitamin E, and choline. They also have only 1 gram of sugar and 3 net carbs per bar.
We also offer IQMIX—hydration mixes that contain brain-supportive nutrients, including lion’s mane and Magtein®, a clinically studied form of magnesium for cognition and mood.
A Final Word
From exercising to playing fun games to eating delicious foods, raising your IQ can be an enjoyable process that benefits your well-being in several ways.
Just keep in mind that IQ is only one indicator of intelligence and doesn’t define your success or who you are as a person. Don’t get hung up on your specific IQ number. Instead, add these healthy living tips into your life in a fun, meaningful way and consider any improvements in intelligence a bonus!