7 Mental Benefits of Solving Puzzles
Puzzles provide hours of fun and relaxation. You can do them almost anywhere, and it doesn’t require a huge investment. But do you know the benefits of solving puzzles goes far beyond simple entertainment?
For example, crosswords boost your vocabulary and increase your general knowledge. And solving them in a group is believed to strengthen the ability to work strategically as a team and handle disputes. As for children and toddlers, they often benefit from educational puzzles.
Emotional development, cognitive skills, and physical skills are improved when children engage in puzzle solving. Here’s more about how puzzles improve your brain.
Improves Your Ability for Solving Problems
Science shows that solving puzzles enhances the human brain. Solving difficult puzzles strengthens your intellectual processes. The ability to solve a puzzle relies on the degree of commitment and mental endurance that you are willing to invest in problem-solving. The more you actively solve puzzles, the more benefits you receive.
Actively engaging in puzzles regularly improves your ability to solve problems. When you try to solve a difficult puzzle, you are formulating theories and testing your hypothesis; you are combining creative and empirical reasoning. In addition, you are using your imagination and using those newly formed connections in your brain to increase your efficiency at problem-solving.
You could be training your mind with brain teasers. The more teasers you solve, the more efficient your problem-solving skills become.
Improves your Memory
Working on puzzles, and solving them, reinforces the connection between your brain cells and also generates new relationships between those cells. This enhances the speed of your thought processes. Jigsaw puzzles are particularly good for enhancing short-term memory. This is because you need to remember shapes and colors of individual pieces. You need to visualize how the pieces fit together and imagine how the picture is intended to look. The best puzzles for improving your memory include:
- Crossword puzzles
- Word searches
- Wood puzzle games
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Concentration and matching
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Improves Your Spatial Reasoning
Jigsaw puzzles force you to visualize how small pieces fit into the whole picture. Working on jigsaw puzzles regularly helps improve your visual-spatial reasoning processes. These processes are important, especially for tasks like packing a suitcase and parking a car. This ability is especially important for those who work in specific fields such as architects, artists and surgeons.
Enhances Your Neurotransmitters
Your brain generates neurotransmitters to help your brain connect to the rest of your body. Any task that requires focused mental effort gets neurons in your brain to fire.
When you work on a puzzle, your brain produces dopamine in response. Dopamine enhances your motor skills while it boosts your ability to concentrate and reinforces your understanding of problems and puzzles. The increase in dopamine explains why puzzle solvers push themselves to solve increasingly challenging puzzles.
Decreases Your Risk of Degenerative Diseases
Entertaining yourself with puzzles is especially beneficial as you age. Studies have shown that those who solve puzzles, particularly puzzles like sudoku and crossword puzzles, stay sharper and more focused as they get older.
The Alzheimer’s Association encourages keeping the brain active by solving puzzles and learning new skills. Those who keep their brains active have less beta-amyloid plaque, the biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease. Keeping the mind active builds new brain cells and enforces neurological connections. Reducing your risk, or slowing the progression, of Alzheimer’s or dementia is another reason why puzzles are good for your brain.
Increases Your IQ
Solving puzzles can increase your memory, vocabulary and your ability to reason. Enhancing these abilities can increase your IQ. Your intelligence quotient measures your mental agility. A test conducted at the University of Michigan shows that puzzles that challenge your memory can improve your IQ scores. Simply spending 25 minutes a day on puzzles can increase your IQ by four points.
Enhances Your Vocabulary
Not only will puzzles like sudoku help with problem solving and logic, but brain teasers can also force you to approach a problem from a different angle and think outside the box. Crossword puzzles and other word puzzles, like jumbles and cryptograms, can increase your vocabulary. Not only will you learn new words as you decipher your clues, but you are forced to spell new words correctly.
People are generally able to solve certain types of puzzles at different ages, but the benefits to your brain will occur at every age. Senior citizens benefit from solving puzzles with improved memory skill, changes in their brain chemistry and enhanced creativity. Children who enjoy solving puzzles learn hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and problem-solving.
No matter what your age, You can enjoy your free time while training your mind with brain teasers, wood puzzle games, jigsaws and memory games. How much you enhance your brain depends on your commitment to solving the puzzle, and how often you choose to exercise your mind for those puzzle games benefits.
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