Playing More is a Health New Year’s Resolution to Begin This Year.
Many of us try to create new practices in the New Year. One New Year’s resolutions should be to play more. Play changes the brain and creates health. Playing is an essential health benefit to our mind and body. One fun practice to begin in the New Year is to begin to regularly play games. Research shows that participating in fun activities can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and lead to low levels of stress.
Listed below are three fun, popular games that have inspired scientists and recently led to fascinating studies.
This smartphone game became all the rage over the past year. Sharing similar characteristics to geocaching, Pokémon Go is a GPS-based game in which people must walk from location to location in order to find and catch Pokémon characters. This game brought to life a childhood favorite so it has greatly impacted the emotional health of millions of users and all the walking can help people stay more active—thus reducing their risk of obesity and type-2 diabetes. But that’s not all. Researchers from the University of California, Riverdale have used to Pokémon to study memory in humans. They found a strong link between prior familiarity in “long-term memory and visual short-term memory storage capacity.”
Originally known as “CRISS CROSS WORDS,” this game was developed throughout the 1930s and 1940s and was later trademarked as “SCRABBLE” in 1948. Since then this word game has become world famous, with competitions held across the world and championship tournaments held every year. Playing board games like SCRABBLE not only help us better master our spelling skills, it’s also a great way to socialize and connect with others.
Researchers have also used SCRABBLE and competitive players to study word recognition behavior. These competitive players typically study 180,000 words that are listed in The Official Tournament and Club Word List. And while it was previously thought that we are far limited in the development of word recognition in adulthood than childhood, this study of SCRABBLE players shows that visual word recognition can be shaped by experience, even in adulthood.
Just like SCRABBLE, chess is an international game that is played in parks and schools across the world. Chess is said to date back centuries and there are many health benefits associated with the game. Playing chess has been linked to Alzheimer’s prevention and schizophrenia treatment. Researchers have also used chess to study different aspects of human nature. For instance, these researchers analyzed chess players and found that our brain tends to stick to solutions that we’re already familiar with, rather than trying to construct better alternatives.
Bonus. Want to bring a little play into your life? Consider playing board games with your family or play a game online. There are, of course, many other ways you can bring a little play into your own life without playing games. For more advice, check out these tips.