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Let us (and science) convince you to get out the board games this Christmas

Posted by
Jessica Rapana
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A new study has found that playing board games can improve brain health and cognitive functioning – Monopoly, anyone?

You know the festive season is here when the Monopoly board comes out.

There’s something about whiling away the hours ‘buying houses’ and ‘getting out of jail free’ that makes you really feel like you’re out of office. 

No 6am wake-up calls. No meetings. No gym classes. Just friendly (or in my family – heated) banter over who is cheating, while sitting around in Christmas crackers hats, drinking red wine and eating leftover turkey.

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It’s nearly that time of year again, and now, there is even better reason to dust off your old board games: new research has found that playing board games can also boost brain health.

The 68-year-long study, published in the Journal of Gerontology, showed that a higher frequency of playing board games was linked to higher cognitive functioning.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh assessed more than 1000 people of the same sex, health and activity levels and education born in 1936. These people were tested for cognitive functioning at the age of 11 and then again at 70.

Participants were asked to rate how often they played games, including crosswords, bingo, cards and chess, between one (daily) to five (less than once a year or never). Those who played board games more often throughout their life had sharper mental thinking compared to those who rarely played or who began playing digital games later in life. 

Playing board games is good for your brain health.

What’s more, those who increased their frequency of board games later in life, between the ages of 70 and 76, also showed increased speed in thinking and memory processing. 

In an era where face-to-face interaction is decreasing, the alertness and engagement required for playing board games can be beneficial, which is probably why board games groups and cafes are increasingly popping up around the country.

So, next time the Monopoly board comes out, why not give it a go? Your brain will thank you for it.

Images: Getty, iStock

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Jessica Rapana

Jessica Rapana is a journalist based in London, and enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content. She is especially fond of news, health, entertainment and travel content, and drinks coffee like a Gilmore Girl.

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