Physical exercises can improve our body and keep us fit, but what about the wellness of our minds? As we get older, we begin to experience problems with cognitive functions such as memory, concentration and even thinking. This is not exactly a health challenge; it is simply part of the process of aging. But what if there was a way to delay this process? What if there is some form of exercise that we can do to improve our memory and concentration just as we do to improve our physical body?
Certain games have been proven to help improve cognitive functions. For years now, young and old people alike have been using them to improve their mental agility and prevent brain aging. The training provided by these games can help to improve memory, deduction, logic skills and response time.
Let us explore some of these games and talk about how they can keep you sharp and improve the state of your mind.
Sudoku is a numbers game that has existed for quite some time. Just like the crossword puzzle, Sudoku had a lot of its early exposure on the pages of newspapers. These days, there are tons of Sudoku apps for PC and mobile devices. Sudoku is played by keeping a series of numbers in your head and deciding how the numbers will add up in the nine space grid. This game works with a combination of logic, strategy and mathematics, three ingredients guaranteed to keep the brain sharp. Because it involves a good deal of concentration, Sudoku provides the ideal workout for the brain and helps in stimulating the mind. Like all other forms of crosswords, Sudoku comes in various degrees of difficulty and you can move from one level to another as it gets easier for you. Bear in mind though that Sudoku can be quite addictive and there is the possibility that it can distract you from other activities.
Chess is possibly the most intellectually challenging game ever and unlike other games that you can simply pick up, it will take a lot of time, study and effort before you can learn to play chess. But once you get the grasp of it, you will realize why it is such a favorite for extremely smart people. Chess is essentially a strategy game so it will involve a lot of deductive reasoning, logic, strategy and mathematics. And because you will need to remember a lot of strategies in order to win, it also involves long term memory. All of these factors combined will help improve your cognitive function, keeping your brain sharp for other activities. Additionally, a lot of the strategies used in chess can be applied to parts of your everyday life.
Crosswords puzzles are the classic brain training game. This particular game has been extremely popular for years and shows no sign of slacking off. Crosswords test your brain in different ways – from trivial to current affairs, mathematics, health and basically any topic under the sun. Because of the way crosswords work, you will be exposed to a wide variety of subjects. Crosswords also come in varying levels of difficulty. This means that you can proceed from one level to another once you find the current level too easy for your skills. While there is really no strategy involved in doing crosswords, it involves a lot of long term memory, deductive reasoning and intelligence. There are even studies that show that doing crosswords can exercise the brain, delay memory loss and improve cognitive functions.
Jigsaw puzzle –
Just like crosswords, jigsaw puzzles are another way to keep the brain active. Jigsaw puzzles provide the perfect tool for engaging your short term memory. It also stimulates the part of the brain that aids in visual perception. Additionally, successfully putting a piece in its place has been known to stimulate the release of dopamine, which also helps in concentration because of its reward component. The beauty of jigsaw puzzles is that they come in a variety of challenges. Therefore if you get bored with exotic animals and plants, you can try one where you have to correctly guess where different countries are found on an atlas.
Video games –
Video games, especially those that involve multitasking are a good way to keep your brain active. While shooting up bad guys can be fun, it doesn’t exactly do anything for your cognitive function. Games that require you to react or engage in problem solving tasks on the other hand can significantly help with memory, problem solving ability, strategy and deductive reasoning. A recent study showed that activities like these help to regulate neuronal markers that allow you to better handle distractions or interference when retrieving information from your short or long term memory.
Lumosity is not exactly a game; instead it is one of the most developed brain training apps available. Lumosity was developed with the help of hundreds of researchers from different parts of the world and is currently used by millions of people to boost their cognitive functions. The app contains about 50 colourful games designed to help in the five core areas of cognitive function – memory, attention, problem solving, logic and speed. Lumosity comes in different packages but regardless of the one you use, you will challenge your brain and have the opportunity to keep track of the results. And even though the games are lots of fun, the activities involved are backed by science. In fact, the developers say that playing only one session of the game each day can significantly improve mental skills.
Keep our brain at optimum is important for productivity and a happy life, and even though we cannot reverse the effects of aging, we owe it to ourselves to do all in our power to delay its effect on our brain. There are hundreds of other activities we can involve in to keep our brain active such as travelling, meeting new people and making new experiences. But playing the games covered above will give the same results without having to leave home or incur unnecessary expenses.