Aging

These Fun Games Are Linked to Sharper Brains Later in Life

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Crossword puzzles and Sudoku are great ways to entertain yourself in the evening or pass the time on a leisurely summer afternoon. But as you get older, these games may also help keep your brain sharp as a tack.

Recent research published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found the more often adults over the age of 50 play word and number games, the better their brains function. Researchers asked more than 19,000 participants how often they did puzzles like crosswords or Sudoku. Then, they all performed a series of cognitive tests to measure their brain function. Results showed the participants who did puzzles regularly did much better on tasks that assessed attention, reasoning, and memory than those who did not. Researchers added that the puzzle enthusiasts in the group were also remarkably speedy and accurate in their performance.

“In some areas the improvement was quite dramatic — on measures of problem-solving, people who regularly do these puzzles performed equivalent to an average of eight years younger compared to those who don’t,” said lead researcher Anne Corbett in a press release. “We can’t say that playing these puzzles necessarily reduces the risk of dementia in later life, but this research supports previous findings that indicate regular use of word and number puzzles helps keep our brains working better for longer.”

Even if you already do all the crosswords you see in the newspaper, there’s no harm in adding more puzzles to your routine. For example, the Simon & Schuster Mega Crossword Puzzle Book #18 ($10.87, Amazon) offers 300 creative crosswords to try at your convenience. Or if you’re more of a Sudoku person, the book Funster Tons of Sudoku ($9.89, Amazon) might be right up your alley.

But regardless of whether you prefer puzzles with words or numbers, isn’t it amazing how games can help keep us young?

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