Are Crossword Puzzles Brain Exercise For Adults?
Can Activity Word Games Improve One's Cognitive Functioning?
I am a long time lover of word games with crossword puzzles ranking high on the list of my favorites. So hearing that science is increasingly finding proof that exercising the mind is a very important aspect of maintaining clarity into our old age had me very excited.
Sigh, my enthusiasm was not to be long lasting. Crossword puzzles will indeed help to maintain brain health and expand our knowledge base but they don't fall into the category of games that excel in cognitive brain function. That award goes to maze games. Fortunately any puzzles and games we play that challenge our mind do help to improve our brain power and especially those that our new to us.
So don't chuck your crossword book across the room, crosswords puzzles do have their own unique advantages even though with some limitations as to the benefits they will provide your mind. For lovers of word play let's take a peek at the why and how of getting the most benefit from games we play.
Play Is Work And Work Is Play To Your Brain
There are a number of factors which keep your mind alert and functioning. The foods you consume, environmental exposures, oxygen levels, hydration levels, and the tasks that you expose your mind to all work to improve your brain health.
As we age our brain cells slowly die off, the brain visibly shrinks in size, and most of us begin to have some slow down in our mental capabilities. Some individuals will lose a severe degree of brain functioning and move forward into the various stages of dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Others will remain alert and intellectually active well into their old age.
Science now knows that we have quite a degree of influence over how fast our brain ages. Although we cannot control some factors such as accidental brain damage, there are things which we are able to do to help our mind maintain its maximum functioning abilities.
Diet, physical fitness, and keeping the brain active are each very important ingredients in brain health. Just as your muscle requires exercise to strengthen and retain its form so does the brain require stimuli to keep it mentally alert and functioning at peak performance. Of course not all exercise is created equal and different types will give you considerably more health benefit, this rule also applies to mental workouts.
So Which Games Improve Cognitive Function?
Studies indicate that when your brain takes on new or increasingly challenging tasks that it can open previously unused or under utilized brain cells within itself to store this new information. Word puzzles can be very challenging but when we work on a crossword we are using a specific area of the brain which specifically handles language and speech.
Although the first few we work on can teach us the new task of how to solve a crossword, after that time this type of game generally works to increase our vocabulary and other word facts knowledge. In other words if you want that crossword to improve your mind you will have to challenge your mind in ways it hasn't been before. ie: Take on puzzles that include a variety of challenges or unique pathways to solving them. Intentionally take the time to learn the meaning of new words you encounter. Challenge your brain with new concepts and ideas.
Play A Variety Of Games To Keep Your Brain Alert
Challenge your mind. In order to substantially increase our cognitive ability we require games which consistently challenge us to learn new tasks, follow new directions, or follow different or unique pathways to their conclusion.
Adding a set time allotment to the tasks or games we undertake can also substantially improve results as it increases the means by which we must learn to solve the task. So when doing crossword puzzles add a timer to the mix.
Although crossword puzzles may not be the greatest way to prevent future brain drain they do provide other benefits. These games are an enjoyable way to relax, de-stress, and increase your word power.
Wrapping up a Gift for a Puzzle Loving Friend?
When wrapping gifts it is always fun to create a specific theme and games are always a fun one to select. For a crossword lover you can wrap his gift in old puzzles and attach a fancy pencil or eraser set to the outside of the package.
A gift basket filled with puzzle books, a dictionary, pencils, fancy erasers, a pencil sharpener, nuts or chocolates to munch on, a coffee mug, and perhaps a package of hot chocolate or some packets of herbal tea is amusing and delightful all at the same time. A small plush or beanie toy could also be put in as a puzzle buddy.
You can also find many fun crossword theme gifts that will have your puzzle loving friend chuckling as he or she unwraps them. Get creative and have fun with your decorating ideas (it may help you exercise those brain cells you are striving to keep.)
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