How puzzles improve brain health

10 ways fun brain puzzles help to improve cognitive health

December 18, 2023
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Puzzles are more than just a fun pastime—they provide a range of benefits that contribute to a healthier brain, improving cognitive skills such as problem-solving, memory, and concentration. 

That’s right: They’re not “just” puzzles.

Still not convinced? Then keep reading to learn more about the benefits of puzzles. 

Why fun brain puzzles are good for the brain

So: How are puzzles so good for your brain

Well, for starters, they force you to use multiple cognitive abilities at the same time. For example, when solving a jigsaw puzzle, you need to use your visual-spatial reasoning skills to piece together the image, while also exercising your short-term memory to remember where each piece fits. This mental workout strengthens the connections between your brain cells, ultimately improving your cognitive function. 

There’s research to back this up: This study found that individuals who regularly engage in puzzle-solving activities are less likely to develop cognitive decline and have a higher overall cognitive performance. 

Time to dust off those old puzzles! 

10 ways puzzles can improve your brain health

Puzzles offer numerous cognitive benefits, helping to enhance various aspects of brain health. Here are some of the specific ways puzzles can improve your brain function:

1. Enhance problem-solving skills

Puzzles require critical thinking and strategizing, which helps sharpen problem-solving skills. Such skills are essential in many aspects of life, from personal challenges to professional situations.

2. Improve memory function

Engaging in puzzles has a positive impact on short-term memory and brain cell connectivity. It’s because as you work on a puzzle, you exercise your memory by recalling the placement and relationships of various pieces. 

3. Increase IQ

Research shows that some puzzles can help improve overall intelligence and cognitive abilities. This study from the University of Michigan found a correlation between puzzle solving and increased fluid intelligence, which can impact IQ levels. 

4. Delay cognitive decline

Some studies have shown that puzzles can help reduce the chances of developing cognitive decline, such as dementia and Alzheimer's. By keeping your brain active and engaged, puzzles can contribute to maintaining and improving overall brain health.

5. Improve visual-spatial reasoning

Puzzles, particularly jigsaw puzzles, help improve visual-spatial skills and perception. And as you piece together a puzzle, you’re training your brain to recognize patterns and relationships between shapes.

6. Enhance concentration

Working on puzzles requires focus and attention, which, in turn, improves concentration. And developing strong concentration skills is essential for productivity, learning, and retention in both your personal and professional life.

7. Promote relaxation and reducing stress

Puzzles can lower stress levels and encourage relaxation by providing a calming and focused activity. They also promote overall mental well-being by allowing your mind to enter a more meditative-like state. 

8. Encourage persistence and patience

Puzzles require determination and patience, as they often involve trial and error. (We’ve all been there, trying to find the missing puzzle piece after hours of searching.) Increasing your levels of persistence and patience in cognitive tasks can translate to increased resilience in other important aspects of life.

9. Improve mood

Puzzles can contribute to a more positive mood by providing a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction upon completion. Positive emotions like these are an essential aspect of overall mental health. 

10. Enhance social interaction

Puzzles can be a collaborative activity, promoting social connections, communication, and teamwork, all of which are essential for building and maintaining strong relationships.

Solve puzzles for a healthier brain with a fun brain training app

Now that you understand the cognitive benefits of puzzles, it's time to start integrating them into your daily routine. By regularly solving various types of puzzles, such as jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, and brain teasers, you can exercise different cognitive skills and keep your brain engaged. 

And if you want to take your puzzle solving to the next level with a personalized, research-backed approach, consider downloading the Elevate app, available on iOS and Android. It offers a wide range of brain training games designed to improve cognitive skills such as writing, speaking, reading, vocabulary, memory, and math. But there’s more: it also includes a Daily Crossword—a quick mini puzzle that is packed with learning opportunities and can be solved in just about a minute. 

So download Elevate today. It’s the missing piece in your daily routine! 


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