Puzzles are fun and entertaining, but their benefits go beyond simple recreation. In fact, playing and solving puzzles on a regular basis can benefit adults and children in various ways.
Puzzles often stimulate problem-solving centers in the brain and can improve brain health. Researchers have found that, by completing crossword puzzles, playing challenging games or doing other puzzle-related activities, individuals may be less likely to develop brain plaques that have been tied to Alzheimer’s disease. Data published in the Archives of Neurology found a distinct connection between people who exercised their minds with stimulating activities in their early and middle years and brain health. This group had less Beta-amyloid protein uptake in their brains, which is linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s, than those who didn’t engage in puzzles during the same time frame.
Beyond their health benefits, puzzles offer some additional perks.
• Puzzles boost vocabulary. Puzzles such as crosswords or codewords/cryptograms introduce people to new words. This helps people expand their vocabulary and can help them improve their spelling.
• Puzzles teach patience. Puzzles can be challenging, and such challenges can promote patience in regard to approaching and realizing goals.
• Puzzles can reinforce lessons. Teaching through puzzle play is an effective way to tap into memory retention while making lessons fun.
• Puzzles may improve intelligence. Engaging in puzzles can force players to think and reason using general knowledge, memory, spatial imagery, and logic. These skills help to sharpen intellect over time. Researchers at the University of Michigan even found that adults could boost their IQs by four points after spending 25 minutes a day doing puzzles.
• Puzzles reinforce concentration. Concentration is required to find words hidden in a word search puzzle or to solve a brainteaser. According to data on SelfGrowth.com, puzzles naturally induce a state of creative, focused meditation.
• Puzzles improve visual-spatial reasoning. When solving a jigsaw puzzle or working one’s way through a maze, players have to look at different shapes and figure out where they fit within the larger picture. Better visual-spacial skills can help with packing, driving and using a map and can be valuable career tools in fields such as architecture.
Puzzles are a fun recreational activity that also can boost brain health.