Brain Games: 5 Fun Ways to Keep Your Mind Sharp
Aug 17, 2016
Ready for some good news? Old brains can learn new tricks.
“We used to think that with age, brain cells shriveled up, died, and that was that,” says Paul Laurienti, M.D., Ph.D., a brain researcher at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. “Now we know that even older brains can grow new, stronger connections.”
That’s right, research has shown that when played consistently, “brain games” can help people improve their memory, strengthen critical thinking skills, and promote brain health. Two key components are important for games to be beneficial to your brain: you need to play them consistently, and they can’t be too easy. Challenge yourself!
Here are five fun and beneficial ways you can exercise your brain: (And many are available right here at Grand Tapestry!)
1) Online games
If you enjoy playing on your computer or tablet, you can find an endless supply of brain games available, and many of them are free.
One of our favorite sources of online, free games is found on AARP’s website at https://stayingsharp.aarp.org/games. Click on this link to find ten different, popular, and entertaining brain games. You are able to choose the difficulty level of your game and change it as you want. When you finish each game, you’ll get your score and see how you rate against other players.
2) Traditional board and card games
Some researchers feel that the best brain exercises may be your old-school, traditional board games or card games. Various studies have shown that the social aspect of playing with other people may be as important to your brain health as the game itself, so grab some friends and play together to get the double benefit. The list for these games is long and familiar: bridge, scrabble, checkers, chess, gin rummy, mahjong…pick your favorites!
3) Crossword puzzles
Other research has shown that doing crossword puzzles can prevent or slow down dementia. A long- term study by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that seniors who did crosswords four days a week had a much lower risk of dementia than those who did them only once a week. You can purchase books of crossword puzzles, find one in many daily newspapers, or find them online, like this daily puzzle at USA Today.
If you prefer numbers to words, then Sudoku is an excellent alternative. This game can also be found at bookstores or online.
4) Wii Games
Some studies have shown that adding physical activity to your brain games provides the best benefit. Wii fitness games are a perfect combination of the two. Wii games allow you to play sporting events with low impact on the body, and get mental exercise at the same time. They offer bowling, tennis, golf, boxing, and many more fitness games.
Working jigsaw puzzles are one of the first brain games many of us played as babies. When you work a jigsaw puzzle, you are using all parts of your brain. Puzzles also help lower your rate of breathing, and reduce your heart rate and blood pressure. Puzzles run from simple to incredibly difficult—find one that’s challenging, but still fun.
Remember, the benefit you receive from playing brain games is most effective when done consistently, so pick out a few that you enjoy and keep playing!