Whether it’s canasta or Scrabble, playing card and board games makes you more likely to stay mentally sharp as you age

Dust off the board games this summer and enjoy a game or two when it’s too hot to be outdoors.

Regular game-playing could help you maintain good brain health as you age. In fact, a recent study found that people who regularly played non-digital games scored better on memory and thinking tests in their 70s.

It’s not too late to start playing

The research also found that a behaviour change in later life could still make a difference.

People who increased game playing during their 70s were more likely to maintain certain thinking skills as they grew older.

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Over 1 000 people studied

Psychologists at the University of Edinburgh tested more than 1 000 people aged 70 for memory, problem-solving, thinking speed and general thinking ability.

The participants then repeated the same thinking tests every three years until age 79.

The group were asked how often they played games like cards, chess, bingo or crosswords – at ages 70 and 76.

Researchers used statistical models to analyse the relationship between a person’s level of game playing and their thinking skills.

The team took into account the results of an intelligence test that the participants sat when they were 11 years old. They also considered lifestyle factors, such as education, socio-economic status and activity level.

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Game playing helps you maintain memory and thinking speed

People who increased game playing in later years experienced less decline in thinking skills in their seventies – particularly in memory function and thinking speed.

“These latest findings add to evidence that being more engaged in activities during the life course might be associated with better thinking skills in later life. For those in their 70s or beyond, another message seems to be that playing non-digital games may be a positive behaviour in terms of reducing cognitive decline,” says Dr Drew Altschul of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

The participants were part of the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 study, a group of individuals who were born in 1936 and took part in the Scottish Mental Survey of 1947.

Since 1999, researchers have been working with the Lothian Birth Cohorts to chart how a person’s thinking power changes over their lifetime. The follow-up times in the Cohorts are among the longest in the world.

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Source: University of Edinburgh www.sciencedaily.com

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.