Those old board games collecting dust on the top of your closet could be key to keeping your mind active and healthy. Board games entertain and bring people together through competitive and cooperative game play. Some of the most popular board games are: Monopoly, Chess, Checkers, Life, Clue, Scrabble, Mancala, and many more. However, board games offer a lot more than just entertainment. In fact, these games beneficially impact health in multiple aspects at any age.
Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:
- Have fun and feel good: One of the side effect of playing board games is laughing. Laughing has been shown to increase endorphins, those are chemicals that bring up the feeling of happiness. Sharing laughter and fun can promote empathy, compassion and trust with others.
- Family time: Sitting down with family with no interruptions may feel like an impossible thing in your home, as everyone has different schedules which pushes them to opposite directions. But playing games with your kids, or with your friends, is a perfect way to spend time together and build learning skills at the same time. Playing a board game after a family dinner is an excellent way to get closer to your family, while strengthening your family bond.
- Memory formation and cognitive skills: Allowing your kids to play a board game helps them practice essential cognitive skills, like problem solving. The hippocampus and prefrontal cortex especially benefit from playing board games. These areas of the brain are responsible for complex thought and memory formation. Board games help the brain retain and build cognitive associations well into old age too.
- Reduces risks for mental diseases: One of the primary benefits of playing board games is reducing the risk of cognitive decline, such as that associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Keeping your mind engaged means you are exercising it and building it stronger. A stronger brain has lower risks of losing its power.
- Lowers blood pressure: Along with laughing and increasing your endorphins, they can help you lower or maintain your blood pressure. This release of endorphins help muscles to relax and blood to circulate, which evidently will lower your blood pressure. High blood pressure is associated with greater risk of artery damage, heart disease and stroke.
- Speed up you responses: Get yourself a board game like chess, checkers or monopoly, and in time you might be better at being able to find those hard-to-find car keys without having to look for then in the entire house. Scientists at the University of Toronto in Canada assessed two groups’ ability to search for and find an object; their results showed that study participants who regularly played video games were far quicker at locating the target than those who didn’t play.
- Reduce stress: You can always benefit from a healthy distraction like playing a board games since it is an excellent way to kick back and relax. According to an online survey by RealNetworks, Inc., a casual games developer, found that 64% of respondents said they play games as a way to unwind and relax and 53% play for stress relief.
- Grows your immune system: Research has shown that negativity, depression and stress can reduce your ability to fight disease. Positive feelings and thoughts, like the laughter and enjoyment that always comes with board games, prevents these effects by releasing some chemicals that fight stress and boost your immune system. A simple board game could give rise to the ‘survival genes’ and activate them in your brain, making the brain cells live longer and helping to fight disease.
- Child development: Board games play a very important role in child health and brain development. Board games help children develop logic and reasoning skills, improve critical thinking and boost spatial reasoning. Encouraging children to play different types of board games can also increase verbal and communication skills, while helping develop attention skills and the ability to concentrate and focus for longer periods of time.
- Therapy treatment: Many board games require the use of fine motor skills to pick up or move pieces, actions that take both coordination and dexterity. Regular practice and activity improve these basic skills, which is important for children, people with mental or physical disabilities, the elderly and those recovering from accidents. Board games are very helpful when they are added to occupational therapy treatments, as well in places like classrooms for special needs to help improve muscle and nerve function over time.
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