It’s summertime – time for fun and relaxation, travel and recreation, laughing and competing! Time to pull out the games and enjoy the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. Active yard games, leisurely card games, road trip games – fun, engaging, bonding time – to stimulate your brain while on vacation! Yes, get smarter playing games!
So go ahead: work up your ‘mental sweat’ and tone your mind’s ‘muscle’ for greater flexibility and better thinking. It’s a fact! Enthusiastic game playing tickles your neurons in new ways, and helps develop increased intelligence and mental nimbleness. And it’s FUN! Brains love variety and novelty! The fresher the stimulus, the more engaged your brain will be. And neural pathways for organizing, patterning, sequencing, categorizing & strategizing will be strengthened in the process!
Brain science supports the idea: playing games primes your mind for a myriad of abilities: memory storage and retrieval, sustained attention, decision-making, negotiating, improvising, and overall mental resiliency. Grab a classic sequencing game of MasterMind or the more recent Chocolate Fix (or its predecessor Gridworks) to build order and organization abilities, processing speed and step-by-step reasoning. Spend some time with Chess or Gobblet, and as you work out your winning strategy, you’ll be sharpening your critical thinking abilities and problem solving skills. Excelling at sorting through ideas, asking good questions, predicting outcomes and making smart decisions are the ‘bonus prizes’ of categorizing games like Quarto or Set. Or gather your friends together for a game of Spot It! or Jungle Speed, and you’ll feel your brain tingle as you focus on details, discriminate subtleties, make quick judgments and enjoy some great fun! For energizing body agility and coordination, grab a kendama or Ogosport’s hand trampoline.
Groundbreaking long-term studies of game-playing youngsters revealed 10-20 point higher IQs in preschool, and better developed reading and math skills than their peers at age 15! In another study, third and fourth grade game-players significantly outperformed the non-playing group on reading tests. Similarly, game playing has a positive impact on the aging brain. A study of 5000 elderly Chinese revealed that regular game playing and puzzle solving decreased the risk of age-related cognitive impairment.
Fun, engaging, captivating games provide mental fitness just as rigorous exercise results in physical fitness. Playing games develops fundamental social skills as well. With peers or family, games help hone our sense of humor, sharpen our reading of facial expressions, and enhance our understanding of nuances and non-verbal clues. We learn the social arts of sharing, taking turns, winning AND losing, and practicing fair play.
Super games, even though often appearing quite simple, are fresh every time they are played. Many people, especially children, love to innovate and experiment by imagining new rules, trying out a delightfully creative twist for an old-time favorite. The resulting laughter and giggles are impossible to resist! Mutual enjoyment and time spent in play with friends and family nourishes relationships, creates happy memories and enriches our brains – all essential components of great health and resilient minds! What could be better than that!
Thank you for reading my Blog. I welcome your comments and questions via our Contact Us comment form.
Now grab a game, call some friends – or the kids — and tickle those neurons!
Let’s never forget the Power of Play for every age!