Given our culture's obsessions with cell phone apps and video games, it may surprise you to learn that jigsaw puzzles are becoming increasingly popular. Like coloring books, vinyl records, and old-fashioned board games, jigsaw puzzles offer the chance to unplug from the digital world. If you're looking for family games that are good for mental and physical well-being, here are eight benefits of doing jigsaw puzzles.
1. Exercise the Left and Right Brain Simultaneously
The left side of the brain uses logic and linear reasoning, while the right side of the brain is imaginative and uses intuition. Sanesco Health, which conducts tests involving neurotransmitters, reports that assembling jigsaw puzzles uses both sides of the brain. Whether you're working on easy puzzles, moderately difficult puzzles, or tough puzzles, your brain is getting a workout that strengthens problem-solving ability and focuses attention.
2. Improve Short-Term Memory
If you have trouble recalling recent things, like what you ate for breakfast yesterday, jigsaw puzzles can help you shore up your short-term memory. Doing puzzles strengthens brain-cell connections and speeds up mental functioning. By working jigsaw puzzles into your family games, you'll help kids and adults alike to improve their memory, which will help their performance at school and at work.
3. Work on Visual-Spatial Reasoning
Assembling a jigsaw puzzle requires you to examine individual pieces and imagine how they'll connect to the overall image. If you make puzzles a regular part of your family games, you'll help adults and children to work on visual-spatial reasoning, which we use when we read a map, drive a vehicle, pack boxes, and replicate dance moves, among many other common activities.
4. Relieve Stress by Entering a Meditative State
Studies indicate that puzzles stimulate the brain while at the same time allowing us to relax our minds. This allows us to enter a state of meditation. If you focus your attention on a single puzzle piece for minutes at a time and close your mind to other thoughts, this is a form of meditation. You'll feel released from everyday stress, and the state of calm that results will help lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
5. Spend Quality Time with Your Family
Jigsaw puzzles are family games that everyone can enjoy. If you begin a puzzle and leave it on a table in a common area of your home, you can inspire adults and kids to work on it whenever they have a spare moment. If you're the parent of teens, you can use jigsaw puzzles to engage kids in conversation while collaborating on a task.
6. Give Yourself a Break
Jigsaw puzzles aren't just great for group interactions. They can also provide a quiet activity you can engage in by yourself, whenever you need a break from the relentless digital world or the demands of work and family.
7. Live a Longer, Healthier Life
Research indicates that people who work on puzzles, including jigsaw and crossword puzzles, enjoy longer lives with reduced risks for memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease. Recent research published in theArchives of Neurologyindicates that doing puzzles gets the brain working and helps to cut down on the buildup of plaque that occurs with Alzheimer's. In this study, researchers examined the brain scans of 25-year-old and 75-year-old subjects and found that the scans of older subjects who did puzzles on a regular basis were comparable to the brain images of the younger subjects.
8. Provide Mental Stimulation for Dementia and Alzheimer's Patients
People with Alzheimer's disease or dementia experience deterioration of the brain, so activities that provide cognitive challenges can help. If a member of your family has dementia or Alzheimer's at any stage, they can benefit from doing jigsaw puzzles. The brain stimulation can be comforting to elderly people with dementia and may help relieve some of their symptoms. A 48-piece jigsaw puzzle may help patients in the early stages of memory loss, including dementia. A puzzle with just four pieces may be appropriate for patients whose memory loss is more advanced.
People of all ages can benefit significantly from doing jigsaw puzzles. Puzzles promote family togetherness, offer mental stimulation, and provide a restful, meditative break from our fast-paced digital lives. It's easy to see why assembling jigsaw puzzles is an increasingly popular activity.