11 Health Benefits of Playing Board Games


Did you ever go to the grocery store and after you get there you forgot what you needed?  Does your doctor tell you that your blood pressure is too high and that you need to find ways to reduce stress in your life?  Then game nights might be able to play a part in your cure.  Game nights are times to get together with friends and family, to socialize and laugh, and have fun.  These are some of the attributes that not only make games nights enjoyable but also healthy.  Please understand that you should always consult a doctor to seek medical advice as it is related to your overall health and wellness.

1   Improve Your Memory and Cognition

Most people realize that physical activity is good for your heart and your body.  Fewer people understand the importance of exercising your brain.  Playing strategic board games is one way that you can keep your mind active.  Dementia and Alzheimers disease are not preventable, but proactively challenging your mind with a variety of mental stimulation may delay the onset on these diseases.  So it is important to not only play one type of strategy games  If you like Settlers of Catan that is great, but also take some time to learn and play other games too.  Games like Dominion, Seasons, Dice Forge, and Between Two Cities.

2   Reduce Your Stress

Most of our days are filled with busy schedules, deadlines, and many work responsibilities that add stress to our lives.  Then when we get home our family lives are just as hectic.  This highly intense lifestyle requires us to take some “me” time.  Unfortunately we can only take a vacation about once a year, maybe twice if you’re lucky.  Game nights can also provide us a valuable distraction that can reduce our stress and allow us to recharge our batteries.  However, we can have a game night as frequently as every weekend.

3   Creativity and Problem Solving

I like watching golf, especially the Major Golf events.  Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are two of the greats and one of the skills that they each have is creativity.  At some point during these 4-day golf events a ball will end up in a sand trap, behind a tree, or hanging precariously on slope about to fall into a water hazard.  Then they’ll make an incredible golf shot and the announcers will praise their creativity.

Playing board games give us the opportunity to be creative too.  How do we make our connections in Ticket to Ride when you just got blocked?  How can I remain relevant in the RISK game when one of my opponents just took down my largest army?  What will I do when I can’t get wheat in Settlers of Catan because the robber is on my element and no one will trade with me?  These are the situations that board games present to us and challenges us to develop our creativity and problem solving skill.

4   Improved Confidence and Self-Esteem

Exercising creativity and problem solving in a controlled environment like game night helps young people develop the skill of critical thinking.  This ability to think outside of the box will pay dividends when taking standardized tests, pursuing a college degree, and later in the workforce.  Successful critical thinking with positive results leads to improved confidence and self-esteem.

5   Family Time and Communication

Connecting with family is still important and in today’s world it is easily pushed aside with so many distractions on our cell phones.  It is during this family time the board games can be used to teach lessons to the next generation.  Fathers can connect with their sons and mothers can relate to their daughters.  Providing children with an opportunity to connect with their parents is important for the family relationship and to establish open lines of communication which will be extremely valuable as they get older.

6   Improve Relationships

Playing board games not only is a time to connect with family, but also a time to connect to friends.  Today we can connect with everyone on social media at almost any time of the day or night, however more than half of Americans report feeling socially isolated.  Spending time with loved ones helps to overcome loneliness.  This is a health benefit that not only helps you but allows you the opportunity to reach out and help someone else too. 

Many people who are lonely also report eating most of their meals alone.  When having a game night, go the extra mile and make it a dinner party too, even if it’s just pizza and wings.  Eating together and playing games leads to deeper personal relationships and a fuller life.

7   Keeps You Feeling Young & Energetic

Believe it or not, but game nights can also help you live a longer life too.  Socializing with others helps to reduce depression and anxiety, improve happiness, and reduce the risk of diabetes, which is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Game nights are meant to be fun and filled with joking and laughter.  If your game nights are serious and your friends don’t relax enough to have fun, then you might want to make “Having Fun” a House Rule, or you just might need to get some different friends. 

Don’t deny yourself all of the following health benefits associated with fun and laughter. 

8   Improved Immune System & Less Colds

When you are laughing and enjoying yourself your body positively responds to this in many ways.  Improving your immune system is one such response.  This results in fewer colds and increases your body’s ability to fight other disease too.

9    Improved Sleep and Relaxation

Getting older often results in sleepless nights due to stress, pain, anxiety, or any number of other reasons.  Having a good sense of humor and laughing with friends can lead to a good night sleep.  Being able to relax also plays an important role in your overall health which improves blood pressure, respirations, and cardiovascular health.

10  Burn Calories

Laughing isn’t going to make you skinny, but laughing does increase your heart rate and burns between 10 and 40 calories.  So if you can play games without chips & dip or your favorite mocha latte you can make the excuse that game night is a part of your overall weight management plan.

11  Increase Workplace Productivity

Many workplaces are allowing time for play during the workday.  Some millenial organizations just want to be on the cutting edge, but other do it for their own gain.  Playing board games provide a break from your normal thought processes and these breaks let your mind rest and re-group.  These breaks have a counter-intuitive effect.  The increased productivity that results after a game break is greater than what the results would have been if no breaks had been taken at all. 

Conclusion

Playing board games have a number of health benefits to those who play the games.  These health benefits include increasing your immune system and reducing your risk to sickness and disease.  The socialization associated with playing board games improves relationships with friends and families and promotes interpersonal communication.  Burning calories, reducing stress, and increasing your ability to relax are important benefits too.

The younger generation can play board games to learn lessons, develop critical thinking skills, and improve their self-esteem.  Older game players benefit from improved memory and cognition which plays a role in slowing potential dementia.  Finally individuals in the workplace may find that playing board games is a way they can improve their productivity.

5 thoughts on “11 Health Benefits of Playing Board Games

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