Boost Your Brain: Play Chess!

With mental health issues and Alzheimer’s being prevalent in our society today, we may all ask ourselves from time to time, “Am I taking good care of my brain? What can I do to ensure a healthy brain as I age? How can I teach my kids to boost their brains?”

The human brain is an amazing and intricately complex mass. Averaging 3 pounds, this organ is the control center of every facet of the physical body. It has authority over emotions, heart rate, motor function, reasoning, desicion-making, memory, and planning. With over 100 billion nerve cells, it is constantly sending, receiving, and analyzing many messages. The blood vessels of our brains, if laid end to end, would cover 100,000 miles: approximately 4 times around the earth’s equator.

So, we all know the brain is highly important, on the top of our physical health priority list, because it’s in charge! We’ve heard many a doctor, or read many an article about what we can do to protect, mold, and enhance our brain activity. Omega 3’s, blueberries, broccoli, and nuts are a few of the foods should ingest regularly. Exercise induces a rise in blood flow while deep breathing sessions increase oxygen levels in the brain. Studies show that socializing, staying creative and curious, and playing GAMES is a great way to keep those brains as young as possible.

It must really be true that we never lose the little kids inside us, and that’s why playing games keeps that jelly-like gray and white matter as fit as a fiddle. Crosswords and puzzles boost memory. Scrabble enhances language. Risk makes you more strategic. Visit any retirement home, and you’ll probably find a couple of people huddled around calling out numbers and then, Bingo! I bet you’ll find a few smiles and few sharp brains there too. Pretty soon, you may just find them huddled around a chess board …

It’s been proven that chess increases IQ, improves memory, enhances originality and creativity, and sparks both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. It’s believed to prevent Alzheimer’s and other memory-related diseases. Not only does chess show increased reading levels and problem-solving skills, but it also enhances the art of concentration and patience. It helps young and old alike plan and reason, strategizing not only their next move on the board but also their next moves in life.  Lastly, my personal favorite … Playing chess makes your dendrites grow. Dendrites are what carry signals from one brain cell to another. The more you have, the better the signal!

In this new year, let us continue to learn how to take better care of ourselves, being the ever such complex creatures we are. Let’s exercise more, eat better, and play chess. Let’s slow down, laugh more, and fret less.

“10 Fun Facts about Your Brain.” Piedmont Healthcare, http://www.piedmont.org/living-better/10-fun-facts-about-your-brain.

“11 Unforgettable Games to Improve Your Memory.” Mental Floss, Mental Floss, 11 Aug. 2015, mentalfloss.com/article/64418/11-unforgettable-games-improve-your-memory.

Harvard Health Publishing. “12 Ways to Keep Your Brain Young.” Harvard Health Blog, Harvard Health Publishing, http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/12-ways-to-keep-your-brain-young.

Writers, Staff. “10 Big Brain Benefits of Playing Chess.” OnlineCollegeCourses.com, OnlineCollegeCourses.com, 21 Jan. 2019, http://www.onlinecollegecourses.com/2012/03/25/10-big-brain-benefits-of-playing-chess/.

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