Publish Date: 09/07/2020
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis
Health and wellbeing have become buzzwords in the 21st century, with people now far more aware of the need to live healthy lifestyles than was once the case.
Many of the early messages in this area focused on physical health, as experts pushed the benefits of eating healthily and keeping fit.
However, the importance of maintaining excellent brain health has become much more prominent in recent years, with numerous studies showing the impact this can have on the quality of life.
Being mentally active is a fantastic way to keep our brains healthy, particularly as people edge towards their senior years.
Research has found that playing games are an effective way to counter age-related decline by positively impacting mental speed and memory.
Read on as we look at some of our favorite games you can play to maintain great brain health, regardless of your age!
Many health experts across the world have confirmed that bingo improves brain capacity and can help to stave off Alzheimer’s Disease.
Bingo has been proven to significantly boost memory and concentration, while also strengthening reflex and hand-eye coordination skills.
The social aspect of the game also provides benefits in terms of emotional and physical health, making people feel much happier in themselves.
Being socially active not only helps to keep your brain active but can also boost your immune system and lower blood pressure.
Crossword puzzles are often the ‘go-to’ brain training exercise for millions of people around the world, with studies showing they provide numerous cognitive benefits.
They tap into memory functions across different elements of knowledge and reinforce verbal language skills via the spelling element.
In order to ensure that crosswords continue to benefit brain health, it is important to ensure that you pick puzzles that test your thinking skills.
If you are completing a crossword in just a few minutes you need to step up to something that tests your brainpower more effectively.
Sudoku has been a prominent part of the brain training scene for many years and it remains one of the best cognitive improvement tools around.
The number placement game relies heavily on short-term memory, requiring players to look ahead and determine the consequences of a handful of actions.
Sudoku can be found in newspapers, magazines, and puzzle books, while mobile apps provide a modern twist to this classic game.
The puzzles come in differing levels of difficulty, so if you are powering through without giving things too much thought, look for something further up the scale.
Playing card games can improve both short-term and long-term memory, in addition to boosting your logical and concentration skills.
Bridge is one of the best card games for brain health as it tests a multitude of cognitive functions and provides an invaluable social element.
Gin Rummy, Texas Hold’em Poker, and Blackjack are other great games that boost your brain and help to keep it healthy.
Even playing Solitaire has health benefits, although experts would always advocate the advantages of socializing with others overplaying solo.
Jigsaw puzzles are another tool that tests short-term memory by forcing your brain to sort shapes and colors in order to build a picture.
The more pieces a puzzle has, the harder your brain has to work, thus providing greater benefits from a cognitive perspective.
Studies have shown that finding the right piece and putting it in place produces dopamine – a chemical that plays an important part in good brain health.
Jigsaw puzzles can also be done by my more than a person, thus giving you the opportunity to socialize and build teamwork skills.
According to neurobiologists from the University of California, Irvine, playing video games can improve hand-eye coordination and boost memory function.
They recruited non-gamer college students to play either Super Mario 3D World or Angry Birds for 30 minutes per day over two weeks.
The study found that the students who played the 3D video game improved their scores in a memory test, while the 2D gamers returned the same results.
The 12 percent increase showed by the 3D gamers is similar to the amount memory function decreases between the ages of 45 and 70 – perfectly highlighting the power of video games.
Chess players are generally associated with being extremely brainy, with the game tapping into numerous cognitive functions.
Playing chess regularly has been proven to improve intelligence, in addition to preventing the onset of dementia in older adults.
Studies have shown that seniors over the age of 75 were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease if they played chess or checkers on a regular basis.
The games exercise both sides of the brain, improving decision-making and problem-solving skills along with boosting concentration.
There is a wide range of word games that provide players with significant improvements in brain heath if played on a regular basis.
Scrabble is perhaps at the top of the list, with research showing that the best exponents of the game often utilize areas of the brain that are sometimes neglected.
The game tests vocabulary, strategy, concentration, and memory, providing an all-round workout for your brain.
As Scrabble requires more than one person to play (unless you play against a computer), the game also offers positive benefits from a social perspective.
Board games are another great way to ensure that you keep your brain in tip-top shape, regardless of whether you are young, old or somewhere in between.
For instance, monopoly requires different creative and strategic skills that play an important part in increasing brain function.
It balances decision making about buying property and financial management, with the need to engage with other players in business relationships.
Risk and Cluedo are amongst a plethora of other board games that provide an effective way to keep your brain healthy.