There is a worldwide trend that tells us to take care of our bodies. Correct posture, proper eating habits, regular doctor appointments to run blood work, and other rudimentary tests are all part of a healthy lifestyle. While our bodies – our temples – need to be taken care of, we often focus on the physical at the expense of our ability to reason, think, and retain our cognitive ability as we advance in age.
Of course, physical fitness is often related to a better overall cognitive ability, but this alone will not do. This is why it’s very important to understand what causes cognitive decline and, more importantly – what small habits we can introduce to our daily life to ensure that it does not happen to us or it’s offset until very late in old age. As it turns out, there is a lot of research today that proves that the most effective way to combat cognitive decline is to play games. Let’s take a look at this and, specifically, what games can help us slow cognitive decline as such.
Board Games – Have You Heard of Them?
Forget your Uno and Monopoly; there is a world of board games that comes with 40-page rulebooks but do not fret. Most of these rules are now compressed into 5-10-minute videos on YouTube, which means that you can get started in no time. Board games are an incredible way to strengthen your cognitive ability.
There is a whole genre called “euro games,” which comes down to making small calculations over the course of a 60-minute game and trying to outscore and outsmart your opponents. Even if you lose to someone, you are still a winner, as your brain has been engaged and you have, in fact, exercised it – just like you would a regular muscle.
Board games are a fantastic example precisely because they come with many different themes, settings, and gameplay idiosyncrasies, which means that you can find a fitting board game for any taste.
In fact, board games are so popular, and they are a proven method of slowing cognitive decline that Hasbro, one of the biggest publishers in the industry, has announced a project with Ageless Innovation, a global company that develops entertainment products for older adults. The collaboration seeks to turn more sophisticated board games into slightly adjusted versions so that the elderly can enjoy them as well.
Poker, The Game of Kings
Poker is sometimes used as an ego trip by people who need to prove to you how good they are at this particular game. With money on the line, there is always a kind of satisfaction of making a good judgment call. Poker, however, can also be a very good way for you to exercise your brain and be healthy.
If you think board games will have you on your feet thinking hard – think again. Poker will require you to be involved in everything that happens on the table and then some. The game is a near-constant cascade of calculations and risk assessment that you need to do in order to play any hand. It’s also a lot of fun, and you can approach the game from multiple angles. For some, as mentioned, it’s all about winning and proving how good they are.
It need not be the same for you, however. You can visit poker rooms where you can win real money in the US with the sole purpose of having a healthy brain exercise. Of course, if you play your cards right and you are actively seeking to improve yourself, chances are that you will also be winning a bit more often at the game.
Video Games, Seriously?
Video games have long been credited with many of society’s ills. Violence, aggression, and skipping school have been chalked up to video games. Although video games are far from the best time to spend an entire week, they also tend to be somewhat helpful to minds.
Many video games these days will require you to be actively stimulated mentally in order to play. Even if you are playing a first-person shooter such as Call of Duty or Valorant, you will have to constantly make a series of decisions about your strategy, weapon choice, approach to a particular situation, and more.
Although the evidence is still in the process of being collected, there are already some encouraging signs that video games can actually help slow down cognitive decline in older adults and generally help with short-term memory. Now, video games should not be taken on their own as a panacea to fighting cognitive decline.
You need to balance out with other activities and remember to take your video gaming in moderation if and when possible.
Sports and Physical Games Are Just as Important
Not least, there is a very good reason why you should be exercising daily. Exercise need not be long, tiresome, or time-consuming. Over the past years, the benefits to your overall and mental health derived from physical activities have been amply confirmed by research.
Although some studies suggest that 30 minutes of rigorous daily activity five times a week is recommended, newer studies suggest that even 4 minute of high-intensity daily activity is actually enough to help improve your chances of avoiding serious diseases such as cancer or heart disease.
Exercise will help protect your brain by promoting neural growth and reducing inflammation, as well as promoting feelings of calm and well-being. Overall, exercise is a great way to keep your mind sharp and body–fit. There are many good reasons to want to slow down cognitive decline and keep your mental faculties.
The most important is that life does not necessarily end when you age, and you can have a fulfilling and meaningful life for as long as you like. All it takes, it seems, is going out for a walk at a brisk step and playing some games.