Why Board Games Are Good For Your Health (and Some of My Favorites!)

on Thursday, 21 December 2017. Posted in Front Page , Wellbeing

If you were able to catch my Facebook Live video a few weeks ago, you know that I absolutely adore board games!

Boardgame Video Images

There's nothing I love more than coming together with great friends and family, enjoying delicious food, and playing a board game. So I wanted to share some of my favourites with you, but first let me explain why they're so beneficial.

You're might be thinking, Sure thing board games are great fun Lauren but how are they really god for your health? Isn't sitting around playing a board game just as bad as sitting watching TV or playing a video game?

Surprisingly enough, board games are very beneficial to your health, especially for your emotional well-being and cognitive skills. Here's why:


Board Games Give You The Face-to-Face Connection We So Desperately Need

In this day and age, it's become almost normal to opt out of social interaction. Our busy schedules can prevent us from spending quality time with our friends and family. This choice to put our relationships on the back burner, however, can have dramatic consequences on our overall health.

When we focus on strengthening on our relationships, we can improve our sense of belonging, our happiness, and our behavior. When we don't get enough social engagement, issues arise in our perceptions of ourselves and the world, engagement in riskier behaviors increases, and even our immune system and heart function can decline.

Board games help us to nurture our relationships by forcing us to spend valuable time with one another. Not only that, the fun and creative environment that we create when we play board games gives way to laughter and excitement, which produces endorphins and which can ward off mental illnesses such as depression.

According to a survey conducted by a casual games developer called RealNetworks, Inc., board games are also a great way for people to relax and unwind. 64% of the respondents stated that they played casual games as a way to unwind and relax and 53% of the respondents find them to be a form of stress relief.

"It's a wild concept, but I see this trend as a way to establish mental balance and embrace a healthy form of comfort," said Jennifer Louden, a women's lifestyle expert who helped craft the survey. It's "a way to cope with stress and take a brief escape from daily responsibilities."

So why not reap the benefits yourself, and pull out a board game when you have some leisure time? Besides the amazing emotional benefits that board games provide, they also impact the health of your brain.

Science Has Proven That Board Games Can Improve Learning and Prevent Brain-Related Diseases

It's no surprise that board games help children learn important new skills such as numeracy and problem solving. Most board games involve moving forward by rolling dice or to successfully beating opponents by using strategy and skill.

Board games can have a significant impact on a child's development. Take, for instance, this study from the Carnegie Mellon University that used board games to help 124 preschoolers from low-income families improve their math abilities.

No matter the age, board games help our grey matter and keep the brain firing well. Adults can also receive benefits from playing board games. One of the most notable benefits being the prevention of brain-related diseases such as Alzheimer's and Dementia.

One 20 year study in Bordeaux, France showed that people who played board game daily decreased their risk of developing dementia by 15%. They also found that the board game players who did develop dementia experienced less cognitive and mental health decline than those who did not.

In short, board games boost connection, improve relationships and improve your brain power.


So Which Ones Should You Play?

Here are a few games that I personally love and highly-recommend (you can watch me describe each one and give you a sneak preview in this video):

1. Articulate - Articulate is a fast-talking description game that requires you to describe as many items as you can in 30 seconds. It's fast and hilarious both for the active team and those listening in. Great for any number of people you can play in pairs or larger teams.

2. Taboo - Taboo is another word description game. However, this one is a little more challenging because you have to describe words to your team without using the "banned" words listed on your card. You have to be extremely creative. This game works well with 2 pairs or teams.

3. Ticket to Ride - A strategy game where you try to link destinations with your railroads, while preventing opponents from building their railroad. The trick is that everyone's destinations are secret, it provides for lots of variety each time. 2 – 5 players.

4. Dixit - A beautifully designed, simple game that requires players to guess another player's card based on their description. The challenge comes in when all players put in a card after the initial player says their description and you have to guess among the options. Ideally 4-6 players but you can play with just 3.

5. The Settlers of Catan - A civilization-based strategy board game where you attempt to build up your civilization as fast as you can, dominate the board, and get the most points. The fun begins with trading rounds where you barter for sheep, wood, brick etc. Best with 3-4 players. There are lots of expansion sets available if you get right into it.

6. Blokus - A colorful board game with tetris-like shaped pieces which you complete with team mates to place on the board. The goals is to take up as much space as you can and to block you opponents as you work your way across the board. Great if you love strategy and easy for younger children to have a go at as well. 2 – 4 players.

7. Monopoly - No doubt you a familiar with this classic. This game is about going around the board, making money, and collecting as much property as you possibly can without going bankrupt. Great for teaching kids currency, numeracy and simple strategy. 2 – 6 players

8. Cranium - Cranium is a great variety game for adults and children alike. We have the family edition with is super kid-friendly. This game requires you take actions such as drawing with your eyes closed, answering true/false questions, humming songs, sculpting things out of clay and doing mini-challenges. 2 teams of 2 or more.

9. Rummikub - A great family game where you attempt to place all of your number tiles first by grouping them together in sets and runs. Fantastic numeracy game for kids and an excellent game for mental agility in adults as well. 2-4 players, 3 or more is best.

10. Scrabble - Another classic. Scrabble is a fun word game that gives you points based on word placement. Have a dictionary handy for any disagreements on whether words really are words!

11. Carcassonne - A tile laying game where you build maps and gather points by claiming roads, cities and farming fields. Because the board is created as you go its always different and very strategic. Best with 3-4 players but you can also play with just 2.

12. Small World - Similar to the game 'risk' but with much more variety as you choose a certain type of mythological race combined with certain superpowers and use strategy to conquer as much terrain as possible to gather coins. Ever evolving it provides lots of variety and is all about strategy. Best with 3-4 players but you can play with just 2.

13. Braintopia - A fantastic compact brain game for the family that puts you through a series of eight fast-paced challenges. Your goal is to finish these challenges before your opponents and gain sections of the brain to win the game. 3-4 players.

Boardgame Video Images 2

What is your favorite board game?

I certainly don't claim to know all of the great games that are out there and I'd love to hear what you favorites are. So please comment out to me and let me know!

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