We all know it’s possible to improve our body’s fitness with regular exercise, but did you know it’s also possible to improve your intellect and memory with exercises for your brain?
New studies suggest that despite our advances in technology, our intellects have declined by an average of 14 I.Q. points since the Victorian era, so it is more important than ever for us to start giving our brains a work out so that we keep them operating at their best. If that wasn’t incentive enough, studies also show that up a hobby that gives the brain a workout such as mental sports like poker can also increase your lifespan and help you stay sharp as you get older. So, how can you get started?
Believe it or not, improving your cognitive function is a lot more fun than it sounds. Research indicates that playing strategy based games improves the agility of the brain as well as increasing speed and accuracy. It was this kind of research that led to the Spanish government unanimously voting for a resolution that made chess a compulsory subject in schools in 2015. Their belief was that learning the logical decision-making processes behind winning chess would benefit children in other subject areas such as arithmetic.
Similar studies have shown that playing games with an element of excitement, such as rummy or low-stakes poker, can stimulate the brain by sharpening critical thinking and enhancing arithmetic skills. There is a scientific reason for this. Playing a regular game of pokerhelps your brain to create new neural pathways which, in turn, require extra brain cells to transform from performing one function to another, thereby improving the brain’s neuroplasticity. Developing the focus and concentration required for poker also means players can drastically improve their decision-making abilities at the table or online, emotional intelligence, and intuition as well as being able to cope with failures.
Complex strategy-based video games are also proven to increase the agility of the brain as they require the brain to plan, strategize, and manage limited resources and logistics while remaining flexible and able to change tactics in response to unexpected events. The brain is required to make a fast analysis and quick decisions, sometimes with missing information. This leads to a great improvement in cognitive skills such as memory and reasoning. The participants of one study even demonstrated dramatic improvements in psychological tests after playing 40 hours of strategic video games over six to eight weeks. There has also been research that suggests that regularly playing video games can also improve the strategic thinking and reading skills of children suffering from dyslexia.
For those who prefer their gaming to be based in reality, strategy-based board gamesare a great way to challenge yourself and your friends while having a whole load of fun. There are plenty of board games that provide players with a series of interesting and consequential decisions, encouraging you to think a few moves ahead while outwitting your opponents, much like playing a high-stakes poker hand on the felt. Regular players of strategy-based board games experience a vast improvement in their decision-making skills as their choices have a high significance in determining the overall outcome. Thus, it is essential for players to make an analysis on a probabilistic estimation against the background of a real or fictional scenario.
So, what are you waiting for? Hit the brain gym by including a poker game into your weekly schedule. Who knows, you may end up being a member of Mensa!