The Joy and Mental Benefit of Puzzles and Board Games

The brain is a muscle, as they say, and there are all kinds of fun and challenging ways to exercise it, from 300 piece puzzles for kids to monster 2000 piece puzzles for older players, not to mention board games of all kinds. From easy puzzles and family games for kids to tabletop strategy games for adults, it’s never been easier to exercise the brain without needing to take a costly college course or use an electronic screen. Kids can have great fun with 300 piece puzzles, and bigger, complete puzzles can even be framed as art. What else is there to know about doing easy or hard puzzles, and mental health?

All About Puzzles

A puzzle, whether 300 piece puzzles or huge 1000-piece ones, is a simple thing: a cardboard sheet with an image printed on it, cut up into interlocking pieces. The general concept goes back to 250 BC, when Archimedes mentioned the dissection of a square. Later, children in the British Empire were given simple wooden pieces that could be assembled to form a map of the Empire. By the early 20th century, modern puzzles as we know them came along, and they’ve been a classic mental challenge and simple board game ever since. Better yet, they tend to be pretty low-cost (prices vary), and they don’t need any special tools or equipment or rules, aside from “assemble the puzzle correctly.” Why not find 300 piece puzzles with fun pop culture images for kids, or bigger puzzles for adolescents?

Puzzles like these exercise the brain’s problem-solving skills and logic circuits, which can keep the brain engaged and feel good. In fact, completing a puzzle and admiring the end result can result in a minor dopamine rush, and a puzzle can be taken apart and done again later (unless it gets framed). It should also be mentioned that children need constant mental exercise to grow up smart and capable, and puzzles are a fine way to do that, among other challenges (and good exercise, too). Meanwhile, it is believed that dementia patients (even those with Alzheimer’s) get some benefit from mental exercise like puzzle assembly. Not that this is a cure for Alzheimer’s, but studies say that constant mental engagement can slow down the disease’s progress, and nearly anyone can afford a few jigsaw puzzles to give to an elderly relative in need. As a bonus, doing a puzzle is a hands-on motor activity, and the act of moving all these pieces around engages the brain even more. All of this can result in a meditative, calming state. It feels good to do puzzles.

Board Games

Many other board games can also give players some good fun and mental exercise, and keep them occupied without needing an electronic screen or an internet connection. Many of these games are meant for kids, to teach them good sportsmanship, problem solving, critical thinking, and more. These games tend to have simple rules and colorful visuals, and may have a lot of hands-on features. Older players are interested in games such as sports board games or strategy games, which have more rules and require some advanced thinking (the same is true of trading card games). These players can have great fun for hours and use these games as a reason to get together with friends and family.

Sports board games are fun because they are tied into real-world sports trends, such as player stats and team rosters, and strategy games can include related hobbies, such as collecting, assembling, and painting miniature models. Such games (often tabletop war games) support a strong industry for making and buying these figures, and a player may have a prized collection of figures that they built and painted themselves.

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