If you’re over twenty, you may remember Dr. Kawashima’s breakthrough ‘how old is your brain’ game, which asked players to complete a series of fun and brain-teasing challenges to assess the state of their mind. The success of this game – and those that have followed it – was to combine fun with mental aerobics, thus making exercising your brain something that was fun to do. Nowadays, there’s plenty out there that offers both entertainment and the sort of thinking that helps your brain grow and develop in adulthood – here’s a run-through of some of the best and most accessible brain training games for you to get stuck into.
Originating in France in the 19th century but popularised in its current brand by a Japanese game company, the Sudoku is the king of number-based logical brain-teasers, requiring you fill in a 9×9 grid is such a way that no numbers between 1 and 9 occur in the same row, column, or box. It’s deeply satisfying, after struggling with your pencil darting around the grid for a few minutes, to crack a small part of the puzzle, inscribing a few more numbers into the grid.
Although a game for the individual, there’s no reason to stop you racing against a friend to complete the puzzle, printing out two copies or photocopying an existing Sudoku to make the whole affair a little more time-pressured and competitive. It’s great fun; if you’ve never done a Sudoku, keep an eye out for one in your local paper or learn the rules and play online.
The mother of all mind-bending strategy games, to be played by two people, you’ll clash horns over an 8×8 grid in a game with near-infinite numbers of moves. It’s one of the finest and most fun – if intense – way to exercise your mind, promoting brain growth and in fact working both sides of your brain in a way that plenty of other mental games do not.
Buy a board or go online to play friends in different cities or countries – there are so many ways to play the world’s favorite 1v1 strategy game. After a particularly good game between evenly-matched opponents, you are likely to find your brain fatigued in a lovely ‘time to put my feet up’ sort of way, which is a sure way of eradicating niggling stress and having a wholesome and rewarding period of relaxation.
These group mystery-solving games have been on the up and up since they hit the mainstream around ten years ago. In some of the best, like the Cincinnati Escape Room offerings, you’ll be locked into a battle against the clock to solve a murder or to catch a murderer, all by using the pooled brain power of you and your friends to solve puzzles left by the ‘criminal’!
Lots of fun and a cause for hysterical laughter or extreme team bonding, depending on how seriously you take it, this brain training game both tests your out-of-the-box practical thinking. However, it also allows you to learn from the strengths of your friends, who will no doubt help you sketch out the path to freedom for your escape room, which goes into (false) shut-down once an hour ticks down to zero.
In light of the incredible technology posed by VR headsets and improved computer graphics cards, it is somewhat surprising that board games continue to grow in popularity, even amongst younger people. It’s surely the combination of hanging out with friends and testing your tactical nous that has made it the perfect parlor game, with screens switched off and everyone battling it out to win.
Monopoly and Cluedo are old hats now – there’s truly a board game for everyone, with themes – such as Game of Thrones Risk – that makes everything a lot more engaging while nonetheless asking you to scheme towards victory at the expense of your friends! Board games test and improve logical skills while also developing the social skills you’ll need in your business life, especially in games that require trading and cooperation as well as complete domination.
Like board games, card games – or even learning card tricks, for that matter – are timelessly enjoyable and usually require you plan not only with the contents of your own cards in mind, but also by working out what others might have. The state of hyper-observance necessary to win competitive card games like poker is why so many mathematicians hit the casinos – sometimes to be found out for counting cards on the blackjack table, though.
Sit your friends down for one of the most popular card games that are easy to learn and fun to play. By doing so, you’ll be stretching your capacity to think through variations of cards, and exercising your memory, in what is a healthy and fun way of teasing your brain to become a little more active and flexible.
Back to solo brain-improvement, reading a book from cover to cover is an achievement in the days of digital distractions and fast-paced lifestyles. While the contents won’t stress your brain in the way that puzzles and games do, the rewarding nature of reading for extended periods is connected to the increased brain power and concentration levels that you’re training while enjoying the text. There are several reasons why you should read to improve your brain power, and plenty more that encourage healthy creativity and new perspectives on the world.
Pick up a book from the local store, or liberate an unread tome from your bookshelf, and set aside some time before bed, when you might usually be on social media or Netflix. This is recommended in order to treat your brain kindly and treat your spirit to an adventure that can be as gripping as the best-produced thriller movies in the cinemas. You won’t regret this new level of self-discipline that helps keep your brain healthy.
Who said training your brain couldn’t be any fun? By bearing in mind the activities listed here, you’ll be prepared next time you feel your brain is heading towards the fuzzy, flabby side, to take action in a fun and rewarding way, alone or with friends, to train your brain, keeping your mind healthy and agile for the challenges of life.
Shift Frequency Publication – Educational Material © 2018