Five surprising health benefits of playing board games

Posted 2016-08-29 by Marie Vonowfollow
If you think playing board games doesn't have any benefits for your health you are wrong. Although board games are not as popular as they were before the advent of television, computers, video games, mobile phone games and the like, new ones are still coming onto the market. They are a fun way to spend time with others and boost your health at the same time.

Image courtesy of Pixabay


Playing board games can have the following benefits:
  • Boost thinking powers and memory
  • Improve fine motor skills
  • Increase connectedness with others
  • Decrease stress levels
  • Improve immunity

  • The benefits provided will depend on the game you are playing, who you are playing it with, and your personality.

    Boost thinking powers and memory
    The prefrontal cortex and hippocampus regions of the brain are used in complex thought processes and memory formation. These parts of the brain get a work out when you play games involving thought and strategy rather than luck.

    Some games, such as chess, involve strategic thinking and planning ahead. These games develop logic, reasoning and the ability to solve problems. They may speed up your responses.

    Monopoly, in its various versions, involves thinking about which properties to buy and where to place houses and hotels. Mathematical skills are involved in working out a strategy but Monopoly is more fun than sitting down to a page of mathematical problems.

    Word games may increase vocabulary and communication skills. Many games help keep your mind active as you grow older, decreasing the risk of dementia.

    Chess Image courtesy of Pixabay


    Improve fine motor skills
    Picking up pieces to move around a board, stacking blocks, moving counters and such will improve fine motor skills, developing better coordination and dexterity.

    These activities are particularly helpful for young children who are developing these skills. Elderly people who are experiencing tightening of the muscles in their hands and people with physical disabilities or those recovering from an accident can benefit. Playing a game is more fun than doing a series of exercises intended to improve hand control.

    Increase connectedness with others
    The majority of games require you to compete against another player or players. Sometimes you need to work with another person or group in order to win the game. You will be interacting with others and you will talk as you play.

    A board game can help bridge the generation gap by providing an enjoyable activity shared by players of different ages. When I was a child I loved playing a simple game called Mill with my grandmother. The game involved moving black and white buttons on a board.

    Although he is an adult now, my son has fond memories of us playing a Mary Poppins board game which was a game from my own childhood.

    Being close to others, whether they be family members or friends makes people feel they have more control over their lives and that they have others to share worries with. Being able to recall memories with others is also positive and those with a close social network are likely to live longer. If they do have a heart attack they are likely to recover more quickly.

    Oxytocin is released when you experience positive interactions with others and oxytocin reduces inflammation, allowing quicker healing of wounds.

    Strengthening the bonds with others is good for your health in many ways.

    Monopoly Image courtesy of Pixabay


    Decrease stress level
    The oxytocin released when you are enjoying time with others helps reduce stress and tension in your body. Your muscles relax and the blood circulates more easily. Endorphins are also released when you are feeling happy and these aid in relaxing your body as well.

    Your blood pressure is lowered when you are relaxed. A game may make you laugh and this adds to your feeling of wellbeing.

    Improve immunity
    Your body's ability to ward off illness can be reduced by negative thinking, stress and depression. Feeling positive, laughing and enjoying a game releases chemicals that fight stress and boost your immune system.

    When you are concentrating on a game you will forget your problems and relax resulting in a boost to your body's immune system.

    Numerous things need to be considered when choosing a board game in order to get the maximum health benefit. Playing a game that is just too difficult for those involved won't be much fun and won't lower stress levels or blood pressure.

    Anyone who takes games too seriously may find playing a game doesn't help them feel closer to others. If they can't lighten up perhaps they would be advised to choose a different activity. A young child may need to team up with a more experienced player for some games.

    Next time you play a board game remember the health benefits and don't consider it a waste of time.

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