Whether you’re a crosswords aficionado or just learning the ways of the game, we have good news for you. There are many benefits of crossword puzzles, including improving one’s mood, memory and mental health.
Better yet, you don’t have to complete a puzzle every day — though there’s also nothing holding you back from doing so. Regularly working on crosswords even just once a week, can positively impact your health in several ways.
Here are six good reasons why you should start or continue doing crossword puzzles.
Science shows that solving crossword puzzles is good for mental health by improving a person’s memory and other intellectual skills.
A study from the University of Exeter Medical School and Kings College London found “that the more regularly participants engaged with word puzzles, the better they performed on tasks assessing attention, reasoning and memory.”
Thanks to the results from this study, researchers can safely say “that people who engage in word puzzles have brain function equivalent to ten years younger than their age, on tests of grammatical reasoning speed and short-term memory accuracy.”
In other words, the brains of people who do crossword puzzles act a whole decade younger than their actual age, which is a pretty impressive feat.
Keeps the Mind Active
Since doing crossword puzzles keeps your brain 10 years younger, it’s truly never too late to learn something new. One of the greatest benefits of crosswords are that they are constantly introducing you to new words.
Learning new things is a productive way to pass the time and helps keep your mind active. Crossword puzzles teach new vocabulary and improve spelling in people of all ages. Keeping a dictionary near you or looking up the meanings of words you don’t know online takes the learning even further.
With a wider range of words at your disposal, you’ll certainly feel and sound smarter.
Builds Social Bonds
To reap even more benefits of crossword puzzles, consider using teamwork. When done with others, like family or friends, crossword puzzles can positively affect multiple aspects of a person’s health.
Humans are social beings, and having meaningful connections can boost one’s physical and mental health, improves their quality of life and helps them live longer.
More specifically, connecting with others “helps relieve harmful levels of stress, which can adversely affect coronary arteries, gut function, insulin regulation and the immune system,” according to Harvard Health Publishing. “Another line of research suggests that caring behaviors trigger the release of stress-reducing hormones.”
Solving a crossword puzzle together as a group is a great way to connect. You’ll be making yourself healthier while having fun and helping each other figure out the answers. It’s a win-win situation.
Helps Fight Disease
Diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia are not completely preventable but doing crossword puzzles can help slow a person’s mental decline and lower their risk.
Cognitive activities, like doing crossword puzzles, “may help build cognitive reserve which allows someone to maintain normal cognition longer,” according to Cognitive Vitality, a program of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. Though it should be noted that performing both physical and cognitive activities can lower risks even further.
A Positive Distraction
In a time where everything seems to be vying for our attention, it’s easy to feel sensory overload. Sometimes we just need to sit down and focus on a single task in order to help our minds defrag.
Working on crossword puzzles is a fun way to pass the time, fight boredom, distract from stresses and alleviate anxiety or depression. Additionally, trying to solve a crossword is more engaging than watching TV or scrolling through your phone. Unlike these kinds of activities, crossword puzzles actually help your concentration.
Improves Your Mood
While working on a puzzle will certainly keep your mind occupied, distracting you from boredom and stress, this task can improve your mood in other ways too.
The feeling of accomplishment you get when finishing a problem, whether it be finding something you thought was lost or solving some kind of puzzle, is remarkable. This sense of victory causes a person’s body to produce extra dopamine, the neurotransmitters responsible for boosting mood, motivation and attention.
So if you’re feeling the effects of stress or the blues, try your hand at a crossword puzzle – it might just help you feel better.
No matter the source – in a newspaper, magazine or online – there are clearly a number of great benefits of crossword puzzles that you can reap. By simply playing a game, you can expand your vocabulary, strengthen your memory, improve your mood and more.
Do you enjoy the challenge of a good crossword puzzle? Tell us in the comments.
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