The puzzles are more than a simple annihilator of boredom on the plane or anywhere; they can actually be beneficial to your social, emotional, mental, and physical health.

Research suggests that these portable puzzles can help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s, as well as improve overall brain function and memory. Surprisingly though, these puzzles have benefits that extend far beyond the brain. Also, doing crossword puzzles can relieve stress and, if solved in a group, triggers a strong sense of bonding. Here’s why we should all be doing more crossword puzzles in our spare time:

Brain benefits of doing crossword puzzles

We already understand how crossword puzzles can increase vocabulary and improve problem solving skills.

However, the effects of crossword puzzles on the functionality of our brain can actually be much more profound. According to a UC-Berkeley study, crosswords can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease . The amyloid beta is a toxic protein that accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s and is the main component of the brain plaques that characterize the disease.

The researchers found that the more often someone engages in mental stimulation activities such as crossword puzzles , the less amyloid beta is likely to accumulate in their brain. In another study, crossword puzzles were found to delay the onset of dementia by offering leisurely stimulation of the mind.

Benefits of crosswords for our happiness

The benefits of the crossword puzzles we present to our sense of happiness go beyond killing time at a dull moment.

For many of us, the stressful nature of our lives is the biggest obstacle in the way of our happiness. Crosswords help relieve stress by engaging our minds deeply, leaving us little opportunity to focus on our daily concerns. They do it in a carefree and low-risk way, making them the perfect escape when our brains need a vacation. Completing a difficult crossword also gives us a sense of accomplishment, increasing our confidence and sense of self-worth.

Benefits of crossword puzzles for our relationships

Solving crosswords as a group provides even greater benefits for brain functionality.

Research has found that teamwork on a crossword improves speed of thought and conversation. Not only will your crossword be completed more quickly, it will strengthen your ability to collaborate strategically and handle disputes. Solving puzzles in a group can also strengthen social ties by creating a shared memory and concrete group achievement.

The next time you’re feeling bored, this research suggests, you should find a newspaper and try tackling the crossword.

Bring in a friend to help you if you can. Not only will it help the moment go by faster, but it can also strengthen your brain and your bond!

Dr. Eric Jackson

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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