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The Amazing Health Benefits of Board Games ...
for Adults as Well as Kids

It's time you dusted off the old Monopoly board, collected all the missing Scrabble pieces, pulled down Trivial Pursuit from your spare closet and gathered up your family for an old-fashioned game night.

board games chess

People who play board games regularly may drastically reduce their risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia as they age.

Why? Playing board games -- though not as talked about as more trendy video games, online games and TV shows -- is incredibly good for your mental and physical health and your very sanity.

In fact, while electronic games continue to make headlines, board games have been experiencing a growth spurt in the past decade. There are now over 42,000 board games and accessories on the market, and sales reached over $5 billion in 2004.

"Millions of game enthusiasts already know that games are positive, social entertainment," said Mark Simmons, the founder of National Games Week (which just ran from November 19-25 this year) and publisher of Games Quarterly(TM).

But what some consumers may not know is just how positive of an impact playing board games can have on themselves and their family. So this holiday season take a look through the amazing benefits below, then pick up a couple of new games for under the tree, delight in playing them with your family while sitting next to the fire, and bring back the traditions of years gone by.

Reduce Your Risk of Developing Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that challenging your brain with mentally stimulating leisure activities (including playing board games or cards, doing crossword puzzles, reading, writing, and playing musical instruments) is great for your mind.

Seniors who participated in such activities about once a week for a 20-year period reduced the risk of dementia by 7 percent. Those who engaged in these activities more often reduced their risk even more -- by 63 percent!

More Quality Family Time

family board games

Starting a family game night is a great way to bond with your family, relieve stress and challenge your minds.

Sitting down for some uninterrupted family time may feel like a rare luxury in your home, as schedules pull everyone in different directions, but doing so is extremely important.

Kids of families who have regular "check-in" times, such as a family dinner every night or a regular game night, often have higher self-esteem, get better grades in school, and are less likely to drink alcohol or take drugs.

"If we don't keep some way of connecting together as a family group, the kids really feel a loss," says Evelyn Petersen, an early-childhood education consultant, author and nationally syndicated parenting columnist.

Playing board games after a family dinner is an excellent way to get closer to your family (you'll often be surprised at where the conversation goes), while strengthening your family bond, and allowing kids to practice essential problem-solving and other cognitive skills.

"Children will learn patience and cooperation," says Petersen. "They also gain a sense of belonging to a group."

Relieve Stress, Gain Mental Balance and Relax

Playing "casual games" (board games, card games, word games, etc.) is an excellent way to kick back and relax, according to an online survey by RealNetworks, Inc., a casual games developer.

The survey found that:

  • 64 percent of respondents said they play games as a way to unwind and relax

  • 53 percent play for stress relief

  • 42 percent believe game play is a way to keep his/her mind sharp

  • 75 percent of those with children said they see educational benefits for their children who play casual games

"It's a wild concept, but I see this trend as a way for women and men to establish mental balance and embrace a healthy form of comfort," said women's lifestyle expert and author Jennifer Louden.

Looking for a Great Board Game?

Sudoku board game

If you or someone you know loves Sudoku, this stylish wooden Sudoku game board and pegs makes an outstanding game for one or more.

Check out some of these top-rated board games for children and adults of all ages:

  • The Settlers of the Stone Age: An exciting game of strategy involving challenges unique to the dangers and opportunities of the Stone Age. (Ages 10 and up)

  • Apples to Apples: A wild, award-winning game of hilarious comparisons that provides instant fun for four to 10 players! (Ages 12 and up)

  • Oodles of Doodles: Oodles of Doodles takes the art of doodling to a whole new level. Players race against time to sketch out eight items that fit within a specific category in a fast-paced family game that will keep everyone entertained. (Ages 10 and up)

Recommended Reading

The 5 Benefits -- and a Few Risks -- of Eating Together at the Dinner Table

The Crucial Health Value of Play ... for Kids AND Adults


National Safety Council

National Games Week

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