We see them in every newspaper, the simple yet engaging crossword or sudoku puzzle. While these serve as our escape as we sip our morning coffee or wait for our plane to begin boarding, you could actually be helping your brain in the fight against cognitive decline by participating in these seemingly mundane activities. Along with brain stimulating puzzles, computer use is proving to be beneficial in reducing cognitive decline in individuals between the ages of 40-70 years old.
There are now 16 million people living with mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, in the United States alone according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). MCI is often characterized by losing your train of thought, forgetfulness, or losing the ability to follow a conversation.
In a study conducted Dr. Yonas E. Geda of the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, it was found that activities such as computer games, card games, and crafting, all played a key role in the reduction of cognitive decline for middle aged and late-life individuals. Crafting proved to have the most impact for late-life individuals at 42 percent lowered risk of MCI development. When it comes to mentally stimulating activities, it is a case of "the more the merrier", as this study by Geda found that with an increase of a variety of mentally stimulating activities of any kind, there was an observable decrease in the development of MCI. For those who are already experiencing cognitive decline, it can be useful to encourage brain stimulating activities even in simple and less complex capacities.
While more research needs to conducted on the subject, it is a good reminder that fun and games not only keep us young at heart, but assist in a sharp and youthful mind.