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
demonstrated that people who did crossword puzzles four days a week improved
mental fitness better than their sedentary counterparts.
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,"
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