The Health Benefits of Games


     “Playing games is for kids—or someone with time to kill—not me!” If you think games are a waste of time, play along with me and consider the health benefits of adopting a playful pastime.

     Games are good for your brain.  Watching TV or surfing the net can be mentally stimulating, but it can also become passive and empty. By contrast, playing a game often requires strategic thinking or quick decision making.  Many games incorporate puzzles or logical analysis into their activities.  Studies show that playing games can keep your mind sharp well into your golden years, and even improve cognitive function.  Learning to play a new game takes time, but can lead to hours of pleasure.

     Games are social. Whether you enjoy friendly competition, or an easy way to socialize and laugh, games can provide an arena for people to know and enjoy one another more deeply. Social connections help to foster a long and healthy life. Live alone?  Find friends to play with at church, a local community center, library, or even online, through Facebook or a Meet-Up group. Many game stores include a large space where people can gather to play table top games and share other hobbies.  When you are alone, or occasionally prefer solitude, remember there are over 150 ways to play solitaire with cards, and many games have solo variations on the rules.  Look online or at your local library for resources to learn new games.

     Games reduce stress, and promote relaxation.  Sometimes, when the rest of the world seems chaotic or stressful, a game with simple rules can bring a sense of order and calm. Even a solitaire game of cards can bring us back to the present moment of peace and quiet.

     Games are fun! No other reason to play games is required beyond that simple fact.

     I love playing Cribbage, Scrabble, Dominoes, Mah Jong, Trivial Pursuit, some new and vintage board games. What’s your favorite game? Let me know at    
Andrea Winchester