Physical health is a huge priority for many people these days, most of us try to incorporate a balanced and nutritious diet and a regular workout routine into our every day schedules. When it comes to our mental health however, it seems we could all be working our brains out a little more.
No matter your age, mental stimulation is essential for brain health and memory retention. Like physical exercise keeps our bodies strong, scientific evidence suggests that mental exercise can do the same for our brains.
Below we have listed the top five games you should play to keep yourself mentally healthy. With a range of word and number games, and jigsaws and puzzles, these games target both the left and right hemispheres of your brain to boost cognitive functions and keep your mind and memory young, and with our ever-evolving technological world, all of these games can be easily accessed online or in apps as well.
Sudoku is a classic puzzle that has been around for decades and can be found in the back of pretty much any newspaper you pick up. Along with crosswords, this game is often a go-to for many who enjoy something a little more relaxed although, unlike a crossword, no initial knowledge or trivia is required to complete it.
Sudoku is a logic-based, counting, number-placement puzzle that encourages you to think logically when trying to place numbers in boxes within a grid. Although numbers are involved, the puzzle has nothing to do with math, instead it is testing your ability to recognise a pattern and visualise things in order to make progress.
As well as stimulating and stretching the brain, and being said to help fight dementia and Alzheimer’s, Sudoku can also be a very relaxing and satisfying activity.
Another popular brain game is the much-loved crossword puzzle. The counterpart, if you will, to the number-orientated Sudoku, crossword puzzles instead target verbal language, knowledge and memory in order to answer trivia questions to fit words into given spaces.
Crosswords are easily accessible in a physical and digital format, making it a game for anyone of any age. They help to improve cognitive functions and memory-recall, whilst also developing your knowledge of the world by requiring an understanding of a range of facts and trivia.
This is also a game that can also be played in groups which boosts morale and encourages engagement with other people.
Memory maintenance games
There are a huge number of games and puzzles with the general idea of improving and promoting memory maintenance, one of which is online bingo, a game which is becoming increasingly popular on sites such as 888 Ladies.
It has been suggested that playing bingo, both the traditional way and also online, can help to boost your brain’s reflexes and improve your mental speed, memory, and ability to recognise information in your surroundings. The game stimulates your brain cells to process and recall information which may counteract the gradual decline our brains and minds experience over time, it is also believed to prevent cognitive disorders later in life as well.
Bingo can be played at a range of different levels increasing in difficulty the more you progress. Playing the more challenging variations may actually improve your cognitive functions even further.
It might be easy to overlook jigsaws as a way to train your brain, but they are actually an excellent method for exercising both the left and right hemispheres at once by requiring logical thinking as well as creativity and intuition. Even better is that this kind of game is a great excuse to detach from digital devices if you wish.
Jigsaw puzzles are not only a great way to improve your short-term memory and visual-spatial reasoning, they can also act as relaxation tool and stress-reliever and provide an opportunity to engage and socialise with other people, which is equally as important for maintaining a healthy mind.
This particular brain training game is slightly more advanced than the puzzle-type – it’s actually one of the most developed websites dedicated solely to brain training and mental fitness.
With the option to sign up for a free account, or purchase a subscription service, Lumosity offers a huge variety of fun, 15 minute games, tests and activities with the aim of gradually training and improving your memory, attention, problem solving skills, processing speed, and math and language.
Available online and also as an iPhone and Android app, Lumosity allows you to train on-the-go with ease and to track your results and improvements along the way.