Just like weight training or cardio keeps us physically fit, using our brain in more demanding tasks is also important for brain health. Especially as we get over the age of 50, cognitive decline is a serious issue that affects the quality of life for the elderly population.
Chess is one of the more intellectually demanding games out there, so it would be safe to assume that it can help you keep sharp at any age. According to this analysis by Ph. D Delfín Carbonell, chess is exactly what older people need to revive their brains.
Unless you just wing it, playing chess competitively requires memorizing rules, strategies and thinking on the spot. For those really wanting to improve, they will read books about chess, analyze past games, and forming their own strategies. In comparison to sitting in front of the television, being a chess player definitely stimulates memory recall.
When playing chess, you need to visualize and calculate possible moves your opponent will make. Since every chess piece has a limited set of moves, you need to figure out which will be the most advantageous or less dangerous. Some people will make their choice in a few seconds, while some players will ponder about it all day.
While you may not necessarily be playing chess for a cash prize, it certainly incites a feeling of competitiveness that will motivate you to do better. The dopamine rush of making good moves and achieving something increases certainly increases one’s confidence. As you get older, the competitive spirit can carry over into other facets of life, possibly increasing your quality of life.
Playing Games Makes Us Happy
Whether it’s chess or any other game that you enjoy, there is scientific evidence that playing games make adults happy. In this study people who played more relaxing or methodical games over violent ones were measured to have a positive mood. If you ever feel guilty for whipping out your phone to play virtual chess, you may be doing yourself some good.
Curbing Technology Addiction
While technology is making us happier and opens up opportunities to discover new knowledge, addiction to cellphones and the internet is making some people mentally lazy. Being glued to your phone wires you for instant gratification degrades social skills and your eyesight. This is why there is a movement of parents around the world restricting access to technology until a certain age.
Playing games of chess with a physical chess set and real-life friends is a good way to disconnect from the digital world. Not only would it be mentally demand, but it will also give you an opportunity to sharpen your social skills.
If you enjoy chess, go ahead and play it as there isn’t anything to lose (except for a time from long matches). If anything, you can join a chess club to socialize, make new friends and encounter new mind-expanding experiences. Of course, other elements of your life need to change, like stress management and physiological health, if you wish to live a happy and healthier.