The challenge of fighting dementia is seen as one of the biggest health crises of our time. A lot has been said and done to promote healthy living and incorporate various aspects of it in our everyday lives – avoiding junk food, exercising, taking vitamins etc. have all been a major points in the check-list so far. Perhaps not enough has been said about brain health and the effect puzzles have on the way our brains work; and more importantly, how they can help.
Research shows that solving puzzle games helps Alzheimers and Dementia sufferers
A group of scientists from the University of Toronto were concerned about the high number of people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Although many of the affected people exercised regularly (exercise being the major ‘antidote’ to mental illnesses), that did not help much. So a group of researchers under the lead of Dr Raza Naqvi, began trying to find other ways to preserve mental health, the main area of research including ‘easily accessible tools’ from the everyday life.
The research, which involved 25,000 healthy people, established that:
- Taking vitamins, supplements or other medicines and drugs (including the popular ginkgo and Omega-3) if the main aim is to slow down or avoid dementia.
- Exercising – which was considered highly useful for preserving one’s mental health – also showed little or no effect.
Solving puzzles has so many benefits!
It appears that the solution to the problem is… solving puzzles, in particular, the humble sudoku.
According to the researchers, people who have undergone mental training including logic grid puzzles such as Sudoku performed better at the follow-up trials even after five years. It turned out that their memory has actually improved. Playing the ever popular crossword puzzle was also beneficial.
The results from the University of Toronto are the newest confirmation that logic grid puzzles, in particular Sudoku, is highly beneficial for our brain health. It is interesting to know that its advantages have been noticed not only in Canada, but also in the USA, where the American Alzheimer’s Association has actually endorsed Sudoku as ‘a brain game’ that might help people avoid this and other mental illnesses.
Sudoku has been proven to have other interesting qualities. For one thing, researchers from the Western Washington University have found out that Sudoku is extremely effective in the case of ‘earworms’ – those songs that, once heard, we cannot un-hear. According to the scientists there, Sudoku helped people with ‘earworms’ get rid of the ‘sound’ in their heads faster than usual (a note: in order for the ‘treatment’ to work, it seems that the Sudoku puzzle you are solving must not be too hard).
Leaving aside the various research results, a lot of Sudoku fans claim that they solve the puzzles for the following reasons:
- It helps them calm down,
- Focus and order their minds.
- Sudoku is an effective tool to detach yourself from the chaotic world and have some peace of mind– a feeling that remains for the rest of the day and proves effective in carrying out all the daily tasks.
The best thing to do is to give Sudoku a go
Well, after all these opinions from scientists and puzzle solvers, there is only one thing we can advise you – try it! Spend half an hour of your time and see if a Sudoku is your cup of tea. Challenge yourself as part of your daily puzzling regimen. You will try something new, make a step towards preserving your brain health, and – something equally important – clear your mind and prepare it for the busy working day.