Board Games Challenge the Brain, Help Support Cognition
The real winner of game night might just be your brain. Recent studies suggest that playing board games can help support various brain functions.
A published in 2019 found that people who played table games during their 70s were more likely to maintain certain cognitive skills as they grew older.
Researchers followed more than 1,000 people, giving them the same cognitive test every three years. Participants were asked how often they played games — including cards, chess, and bingo — at ages 70 and 76. The study controlled for factors such as education and health issues.
Those who played more games demonstrated a higher cognitive function at age 70. Playing more games also was associated with less of the mild cognitive decline associated with normal aging, the study found.
Why is this? Researchers suggested that the mental exercise required in playing games might help slow cognitive decline. They also point to previous research that suggests the social component of playing games may play an important role in their positive benefits.
Such findings were echoed in a of research studies that found board games and programs that use board games have positive effects on various health factors, including cognition, attention, educational knowledge, and interpersonal interactions.
Still another reported that board games were associated with keeping adults mentally sharp as they age.
The study examined 82 individuals aged 65 and older who were residing in adult day care centers. Among them, 41 subjects engaged in 12 board game activities and the other 41 subjects served as a control group, by adhering to their normal daily activities. The findings suggested that board games offer a protective factor against cognitive decline associated with aging, due in part to how game playing appears to enhance the participants’ cognitive reserves.Pharmacists, as widely accessible health care providers, can suggest game playing as a fun way for adults to stay sociable and sharp.