There are few things more important than having a sharp mind. Memory, reaction time, logic, problem-solving, and even emotional control all play a huge role in how happy and healthy we are, both personally and professionally.
Just like physical exercise can help strengthen your body and support a healthy lifestyle, brain training can similarly affect your mind. In general, brain exercise is any activity that engages your cognitive skills. As long as they are sufficiently difficult (but not overly challenging), studies have shown that brain training games enhance cognitive function in healthy people. Furthermore, brain training games have been found to help fight off dementia and Alzheimer for those most at risk, which is pretty remarkable.
If you want to give your brain a workout while reaping some of these amazing benefits, we have produced a list of seven of the best games that will give you a mental workout while still being entertaining. Let’s get started with the list.
Scrabble is an age-old classic enjoyed by people across all generations. For those unfamiliar, the game is played by two to four players, where the objective is to win points by placing letters on the board that spells out a word in the English dictionary. Each letter has a different point value, with the more obscure letters being worth more points. For example, the letter “A” will score you one point, whereas the letters “Q” and “Z” score 10.
The game rewards creativity, and good vocabulary since the players who can unscramble letters on their tile rack most effectively will win the game. Thus, Scrabble is an excellent game for improving vocabulary, problem-solving, spelling, and strategic thinking skills.
Sudoku challenges players to fill vacant cells on a 9×9 grid with the appropriate number. While Sudoku may appear to be a simple game, it can soon become complex, making it one of the more difficult games on our list. Sudoku demands players to concentrate and apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills to discover the correct solution, which is why it is an ideal game for boosting cognitive skills.
According to research published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, playing Sudoku can promote healthy brain function and keep dementia at bay. In fact, people who enjoy Sudoku have been recorded as having brain functions comparable to someone ten years younger.
In a world dominated by Netflix, TikTok, and other forms of instant gratification, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find individuals that would choose to complete a jigsaw puzzle over the other forms of entertainment we have at our fingertips. Having said that, frequently sitting down to complete jigsaw puzzles has been shown to improve memory, problem-solving skills, and visual-spatial reasoning. Furthermore, studies have demonstrated that jigsaw puzzles stimulate several cognitive functions and work as a preventive factor against cognitive aging and age-related brain illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Crossword puzzles are another traditional pastime that can help you unwind, relax, and exercise your brain. These games can help you enhance your vocabulary by attempting to deduce the missing word from a range of hints while also broadening your knowledge of important topics (especially popular culture references). Since crossword puzzles involve a wide variety of subjects, people of all ages and backgrounds can enjoy them, making them ideal for both solo and team play.
Rubik’s cube is a bit more of a “hands-on” game compared to the other suggestions on our list. As most people are aware, the objective of a Rubik’s cube is to organize all of the tiles on the cube so that each side is complete with just one color. The puzzle can be extremely difficult for newcomers, so much so that the inventor of the game, Emo Rubik, took one whole month to solve it after he invented it. This challenging factor makes the puzzle perfect for improving memory, patience, mental agility, and problem-solving skills.
Chess, the Game of Kings, is one of the most widely played games in the world. Thanks to its incredible complexity, chess is adorned by those passionate about strategy and outwitting their opponents with well-thought-out tactics. Players must use logic, visualization, evaluation/analysis, and calculation skills to best their opponents, which is why it is a great game for exercising your mind. Once again, studies have shown that chess is another game that has proven to be effective at protecting elderly people from the onset of dementia.
Aside from the traditional games mentioned in this list, there are many brain training apps/websites on the market specifically designed to help in brain function development. Many of these games have been meticulously constructed by researchers, such as Lumosity, which collaborates with 40+ universities to build their mini-games. These applications take standard cognitive and neuropsychological activities and, in coordination with expert designers, turn them into games and puzzles that test key cognitive skills.
Since they can be played on a smartphone, these games are ideal for those who wish to train their minds while on the go. The main disadvantage is that most of them require a membership to play unless you choose a free package with limited functionality.
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