Computer brain-training games have soared in popularity in recent years as seniors look for ways to stay mentally sharp and prevent Alzheimer’s.
Lumosity, FitBrains, Elevate, and CogniFit are among the most popular of the cutting-edge digital mind exercisers.
But what about “old school” games such as cards, bingo, Scrabble, and chess?
Do they have the same brain health benefits as computer games?
Scientists at the University of Edinburgh in the U.K. decided to find out.
They tested the cognitive function of 1,091 people as they grew older. They also tracked how often the subjects played board games, bingo, chess, cards, or worked crossword puzzles.
The researchers found that people who played more games stayed mentally sharper than those who didn’t.
Professor Drew Altschul was co-author of the study. He said the research shows that more traditional games—not only computer games—can slow brain aging.
5 Best Brain-Building Games
Consider these options when coming up with a variety of brain-beneficial activities…
- Make it challenging. If you exercise with weights that are too light, you won’t build any muscle. Similarly, games that are too easy won’t stimulate your brain. If you do crosswords, for instance, go for the ones are difficult for you.
- Novelty is key. Don’t stick with the same games. If you’re already good at bridge or Scrabble, switch to something that’s new to you. That way you’ll force your brain to learn new skills.
- Involve other people. Research shows that older people who are socially active have a reduced risk of dementia. So make sure at least of the games you play involve others.
- Read. A study from Emory University found that reading improves brain connectivity. It also enhances empathy and the imaginative faculties. You can combine this with the benefits derived from games and puzzles by reading mystery fiction that’s designed to be solvable. Examples include the Five-Minute Mysteries series and the Four-Minute Forensic Mysteries series.
- Combine a mental and physical workout. Studies show that people who perform activities that have both mental and physical components have higher levels of cognitive improvement. For example, a sport like tennis involves more than just physical exercise…you must also use your brain to work out a strategy to beat your opponent.
Computer brain games are trendy, but they aren’t necessary. The traditional games you’ve enjoyed for years can keep your mind sharp into your 70s, 80s, and beyond.
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