Games: play frequently

June 30th, 2014

The quote above has been attributed to several people, but most of my searching attributes it to George Bernard Shaw. Think about the quote. Do you still play? If so, what sandboxes do you play in? If not, why not?

Games help you keep fit in mind/body/spirit.

Before reading on, think about three reasons why this statement is true.

Physical games such as, badminton, bocce, bowling, croquet, golf, horseshoes, pickleball, ping pong, tennis, in varying degrees can/do help with:

  • Muscle tone
  • Balance
  • Stamina
  • Good blood flow to your brain
  • Strategy
  • Eye hand coordination
  • Visual competence
  • Socialization

Mental games such as checkers, chess, bridge and other card games, mahjong, most varieties of computer games (too numerous to mention – maybe they are on to something big) can /do help with:

  • Mental stimulation
  • Neural strengthening and growth
  • Quick thinking
  • Strategic thinking skills

Visual competence Word/number games such as crossword puzzles, jumble, KenKen, word search, Sudoku and many others can/do help with:

  • Thinking skills
  • Processing visual/word clues
  • Increasing vocabulary (word games)

Virtual Games

Virtual games are becoming more popular each day. Many of the Independent Living Centers I teach at have a large screen for Wii games. Many virtual games provide learning and physical benefits for those who play. Games that require repetitive actions, such as swinging a tennis racquet, golf club or a bowling ball train the brain and increase muscle function as if they were actually doing the moves.

Many studies have been done to establish the fact that practicing in your mind is nearly as productive as actual practice. One of the most famous of these studies features a basketball team practicing free throws. One third of the team practiced free throws as usual, one third did not practice at all and one third practiced free throws in their mind only. At the end of the study, the third that did nothing predictably did not improve. The third that practiced on the court improved as any team would. But the third that practiced in their mind, improved almost exactly as much as the third who practiced on the court. So, the take away is playing games in your mind or on a virtual screen can increase mental and muscle performance. For more information on this fascinating concept read more here.

Games help you age well in a myriad of ways.

Besides the brain workout and neural growth, engaging with others in games is so good for you. We are “herd creatures” – we need each other. We function better with interaction. When we engage with others, we have to think in order to respond. We soon forget about our aches and pains because we are talking and laughing with others.

Playing games enriches many of your thought processes.

Depending on the game, you learn to deal (as an adult) with winning and losing, fair play, team work and with being a good sport. You may find yourself laughing and sharing stories. All of this is good for your success in aging.

Teaching others to play games is a fantastic way to strengthen your brain.

Playing a game you’ve always played is better than watching TV soap operas, but you need to push your brain to create new neurons. When we teach someone to play a game, we have to think about how to play. What are the rules? What strategies do we need to incorporate? Teaching someone to do anything is the ultimate test of knowing how to do it.

Think Ministry

  • Plan a game night (or afternoon) at your church. Invite folks to bring their favorite games and teach others to play. See the above paragraph on teaching others how to play. Teaching anything trains your brain in wonderful ways. Or bring cards and have ample time to play. Remember to serve light, healthy snacks and water—feed them, and they will come. Be sure to have someone contact home bound folks and provide transportation. Do not be discouraged if you start small. Keep going word will spread. Ask members to invite friends. Advertise in the community.
  • Play Bible games such as Bible Trivial Pursuit™ or Bible Scattegories™ both games can be played with great fun and learn information about the Bible.


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