To shed a few pounds and get that six-pack abs is a goal for many but did you know that your brain needs regular work-out sessions too? Scientists say your brain acts a lot like muscles in the body and exercising your brain is as important as exercising your body.
One of the best ways to exercise your brain is with puzzles like sudoku or crosswords. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has demonstrated that people who did crossword puzzles four days a week improved mental fitness better than their sedentary counterparts.
AdvertisementThe study involved nearly 3,000 participants with an average age of 73. Some of the participants were given memory training such as solving puzzles, while others received no training. In a short time, those who received training showed significantly higher physical and mental performances than the rest. The study revealed that it's possible to reduce risk of mental decline by strengthening your brain, although genetics and education are both linked to the susceptibility of age-related disorders.
Sherry Willis, an expert in psychiatry and behavioral sciences in the US, and the lead author of the study, says that older elder adults can improve their mental abilities with mental exercises. "To improve brain fitness, you need to challenge yourself regularly and need to do different things. Sudoku and crossword puzzles could be the answer. Each game is different and challenging," she said.
Thomas Snyder, PhD, an American puzzle creator and three-time sudoku world champion adds that puzzles can actually be very relaxing. "Puzzles offer good exercise and stimulation for the brain. But, if you ask many sudoku practitioners what they like about the mental game, they'll probably say it's relaxing. The reason behind this is focusing on the puzzle for periods of time produces a meditative-like state. It takes you away from your complicated life problems and into a tranquil state," says Snyder.
Researches also show that puzzles have far wider cognitive benefits for pupils, aged seven to 11 years old. Some games were also used to learn terminology and vocabulary, memorize data and develop abstract reasoning skills.