I said it before and I’ll say it again, playing games is good for your health. But we’re not just talking about interactive novel games or those brain training games you have on your smartphone. Nope, there are actually quite a few of those traditional games that really give your old noggin a proper workout. And here are some of the best.


Well, what did you expect? Of course, the first classic game on the list is chess, which is the ultimate game of strategy. It’s surprising just how many people are turned off by chess, usually because they assume that it’s too difficult to master, but that’s completely missing the point. Like any game, it all depends on your opposition. You’ll obviously feel inadequate if you come up against a grand master, but play against a friend who is just as bad as you and you’ll get a great buzz out of it.

Enough about that, let’s talk about why it’s so good for you. The key here is that it’s a strategic game that requires you to think ahead. You take your time and plan four five or even six moves ahead. This is incredibly beneficial for your cognitive ability and is one of the reasons why many of the leading military minds of the past were keen chess players.


The basic strategy and card values of blackjack are simple enough to understand. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that it’s a simple game. Many assume that it’s just about getting as close to 21 as possible, but it’s more than that. Blackjack is about beating the dealer’s hand by getting as close to 21 as you can without going bust. There’s an optimal way to play according to what cards you’re holding and what the dealer’s holding.

Then there’s card counting. To do this, you must have a great short term memory. You see the dealer doesn’t shuffle the deck after each hand and if you can remember what cards were dealt earlier, you can work out what cards are most likely to come next. Yes, counting cards is frowned upon, but if you can remember that there were already three aces played in a game, then you’ve got your self a great short-term memory, and there’s nothing wrong with that.


A classic game that you probably remember playing with older relatives. Having said that, most of us used to just stack them and watch them fall when we were young, right? Well, this time around you’re going to play the actual game. Dominoes can be a little difficult to understand for a novice, but once you’ve grasped the rules, it’s enormous fun.

The reason this game is on the list is because, although it doesn’t take a high level of concentration, it trains your brain to work on autopilot. You see patterns and numbers and your mind learns to efficiently match your dominoes to the right tile on the table. This is beneficial for visual scanning, planning, and matching.

Crossword puzzles

There’s a reason why doctors recommend that older people do a crossword each and every day. It’s because they’re proven to slow the decline in memory function.

Crosswords teach you new words every day, improve your spelling, and if you do cryptic clues, they can promote lateral thinking. The solving of a puzzle also releases a dose of dopamine, giving you a natural high for a job well done. In fact, there’s so much that’s good about crossword puzzles that we all should really be doing every day of the week.

Honorable mentions go to scrabble, bingo, and the one game that has caused many a falling out — Monopoly. So if you’re looking for a new game to waste a few minutes on the commute to work, you could do a lot worse than the games suggested above. Not only will you have a little fun but you’ll give your brain that kickstart it needs first thing in the morning.

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