Many of us remember playing board games as kids, and some of us are lucky enough to have families that still enjoy playing board games when we all get together. Board games are a great way to gather everyone together for good natured competition, fun, and all-around quality time. Many of today’s board games are also great for more than a few laughs. In addition to these benefits, there are also some actual health benefits to playing board games. These benefits can extend to players of all ages and are one more reason to bring game night back!
The emotional side
It’s long been said that “Laughter is the best medicine,” and board games can certainly generate laughter (I wish I could show you some of my Pictionary drawings as proof!). Laughter is a great stress reliever, and a little fun can always cure, or at least temporarily set aside, most of what ails you.
Far too often, there doesn’t seem to be enough time for families to sit down together and just enjoy each other’s company. Households are busier than ever, and family gatherings too often tend to see too many people gathered around a TV or debating issues of the day. Sitting around the kitchen table to play a game brings everyone together like few other things can. For small children, playing board games is a great way to teach fair play, gracious winning and losing, and how great it feels to be surrounded by the people who mean the most to you.
Getting into a board game with family or friends can be a great way to relax and let go of some of the stress that too many of us carry around needlessly. Having something else to focus on for a bit may eliminate some stress altogether, or it may just give our minds the break we need to come back later and take a fresh look at whatever’s bothering us.
The mental side
Board games can be a great way for kids to develop and improve problem solving skills, memory, and cognitive associations. These skills are important for all of us, and an increasing number of studies suggest that the elderly may benefit from such activities as much as children do since there is increasing evidence that the cognitive skills fall into the category of “use it or lose it” and that the seniors who stay the sharpest are those who stay the busiest, mentally and physically.
In addition, playing certain board games can help us remember to think outside the box and remind us that getting to the finish line may involve setbacks that we’ll have to overcome. Patience and perseverance are skills that all kids need to learn, too, so why not teach them while enjoying a game of Candyland?
The physical side
For young children, the elderly, those recovering from some kinds of accidents or surgery, and people with certain physical disabilities, playing board games can help to develop, maintain, or recover fine motor skills in a way that offers a fun alternative or adjunct to physical or occupational therapy.
In the end, board games are a great way to spend quality time with family and teach (or remember) what it means to come together in a spirit of competition, cooperation, and genuine camaraderie. Even if your little brother still insists on doing that obnoxious “Sorry!” dance.