Time to Play? It May Keep the Doctor Away

August 27, 2019

Time to Play? It May Keep the Doctor Away

From chess to crosswords, from Mahjong to Monopoly, games have been beloved for millennia. That’s not an exaggeration: Intricately designed board games, complete with playing pieces, have been found in Egyptian tombs and depicted on Scandinavian runestones. Playing cards were first recorded in the Tang dynasty of China, or around 800 A.D., and the oldest set of dice is about 4,500 years old.

It’s no wonder they’ve stuck around so long. Board games, card games and puzzles are designed to be the perfect combination of fun, stimulating and social—the same qualities which make them a great challenge to keep your wits sharp. Here are just a few ways a little leisure can go a long way to improving your health:

  1. Adaptability: As you get older, you may find yourself sticking to habits instead of trying new things. But adapting quickly is one of the most important factors in staying cognitively sharp. Games that require you make the most of the cards in your hand or the roll of the dice can be good practice for adjusting to the unexpected.
  2. Memory: Your working memory— which tracks short-term information like where you left your keys or the time of your appointment at the hairdresser’s—is something you can improve through practice. Games and puzzles exercise the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain associated with executive function, memory and planning.
  3. Socialization: Research consistently shows that maintaining an active social network is correlated with improved health, happiness and cognitive function. Joining a weekly cards group or a board game club is a great way to meet new people, expand your social calendar and keep up your physical and mental health.
  4. Concentration: Mildly challenging or repetitive activities may not be enough to keep your brain sharp. Instead, look for games that make you juggle complex inputs and handle new information. Especially good are strategic games like chess and Go, since they require practice and study to improve.
  5. Relaxation: Did you know stress can increase your risk of cognitive problems as you get older? Engaging in puzzles and games with friends can trigger endorphins that help you relax. Here are just a few side effects of endorphins: reducing pain, improving your immunity, lowering your blood pressure and, of course, cheering you up.

At The Mayflower, we’re always ready to have a good time. With active poker and bridge clubs and an array of group activities available every week (see our events calendar), you’ll never be at a loss for lively company. For more information, you can contact us here or give us a call at (407)-672-1620.