After 20 years with Penny Dell Puzzles, I thought I had read every article on the benefits of puzzle solving. Then I discovered this interesting and fresh perspective by our Victoria Tomis. I hope you find it as enlightening as I did!

Pick Up That Pencil: 7 Surprising Benefits of Solving Puzzles With their irresistible challenges and achievable goals, puzzles have the power to inspire us, encourage us, and motivate us to care for our minds and flex our brain muscles! Puzzles can enrich our lives in so many ways. From boosting our mood and reducing anxiety to strengthening our short and long-term memory, here are seven ways we can all benefit from putting pencil to paper and solving puzzles!

  1. They strengthen your brain 

Is it possible that regularly playing puzzle games like crosswords could defend our brains from memory decline? Countless studies worldwide have examined how and if “brain training” games could delay cognitive decline and give aging brains a leg up from degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.  One universal finding is that regularly tackling word and number puzzles requires what’s known as “active learning.”  This is what keeps our brains sharp, fit, and functioning highly. But is it enough to stop dementia and Alzheimer’s in their tracks? PROTECT, a study run by Dr. Anne Corbett and world-renowned dementia care and prevention expert Professor Clive Ballard sought to answer this, among other questions.  The duo looked at the ways playing crossword puzzles affects aging brains. With over 19,000 participants between the ages of 50 and 96, Corbett and Ballard turned up some inspiring findings.  “On measures of problem-solving, people who regularly do these puzzles performed equivalent to an average of eight years younger compared to those who don’t.”  “We can’t say that playing these puzzles necessarily reduces the risk of dementia in later life,” says Corbett, “but this research supports previous findings that indicate regular use of word and number puzzles helps keep our brains working better for longer.”

  1. They bump up your short and long term memory 

Puzzle games, especially crossword puzzles, are terrific for boosting your brain function– specifically your short and long-term memory. Keith Wesnes, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Exeter Medical School, found a direct connection between frequently playing word puzzles and memory. Regular puzzle players have more accurate short-term memory and faster grammatical reasoning. Research conducted in 2019 by Dr. Anne Corbett, Senior Lecturer in Dementia Research at University of Exeter College of Medicine and Health, also backs this up.  Corbett says, “the more regularly people engage with puzzles such as crosswords and Sudoku, the sharper their performance is across a range of tasks assessing memory, attention, and reasoning.”

  1. They encourage togetherness 

No more are paper puzzles considered the go-to pastime for lonely introverts.  Puzzle games have quickly joined the ranks of activities like board games, trivia, and jigsaws as a way to bring people together. A book or two of puzzle games is all you need for a legendary battle of the brains! Whether you prefer to duke it out one-on-one or as part of a team of like-minded puzzle enthusiasts, playing puzzle games with the people around you is a fantastic way to foster some friendly –or fierce– competition Our Variety Puzzles and Games Special Issues and Favorite Easy Crosswords are perfect for these in-person puzzle parties or long-distance puzzle matches FaceTime style.

  1. They promote mindfulness

Who says mindfulness has to be limited to yoga and meditation?  Mindfulness is all about being in the present moment and stepping away from racing thoughts and the emotional drama in our heads. Hidden object games like our “Where’s The Cat?” activity books require us to be fully aware of where we are, keenly focused, and at ease in our environment. “Where’s The Cat?” with its full-color, high-resolution photographs, immerses you in an extraordinary world that effortlessly holds your attention. From its sun-dappled forests to mysterious ancient castle ruins to quaint cafes tucked into cobblestoned alleys, the aim of the game is to spot the little kitties that are sneaking around (or sleeping in) each scene.

  1. They boost your mood and ease anxiety 

For many of us with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and other brain-based conditions, it can be easy to spiral into a vortex of negative thoughts that wreak havoc on our mental health and impact our quality of life.  That’s where puzzle games come in. Crosswords, word seeks, sudoku, and other classic paper puzzle games bring a sense of order into our lives. They challenge us with tasks that pull us out of our panic mode and encourage us to focus, breathe, and think creatively.  Solving puzzles lights up the area in our brain that processes rewards. And it gives our neurotransmitters a hit of dopamine – the mood-boosting chemical. That’s why those “aha!” moments when we discover the answer to a tricky crossword clue are so irresistible. 

  1. They bridge generational divides 

Gone are the days when puzzle games are considered adult-only activities. There’s a trend and rising interest in word and number puzzle games for children, teens, and young adults.  From classic word seeks to more advanced missing vowel and cross-pair word searches, word puzzles are becoming more inclusive and accessible for younger generations.  Our new multi-puzzle variety books with pop culture-inspired beginner-friendly and seasoned expert challenges are ideal for this multi-generational entertainment.  Family favorites are our Jumble That Scrambled Word Game, Peanuts Word Seek, and Spotlight Movie & TV Word Seeks!

  1. They’re great for a social media detox

Break away from getting sucked into endlessly scrolling through your socials with a puzzle game or two! We’ve got nothing against all of the social platforms and apps that live in cyberspace, but all of us can benefit from taking a breather from the information overload! Consider this: in 2020 alone, the average American spent over 1,300 hours online.  Taking a moment to unplug with a pencil and a book of crosswords, word seeks, or other puzzles can help us unwind and quiet the noise. Setting our minds to solving the mysteries these puzzle games pose can inspire us to summon our inner detective, help us think more critically, and encourage us to actively play rather than passively observe. Game on! There’s so much to love about playing puzzles. From traditional word searches to quirky hidden object games to elaborate cryptic crosswords, puzzles offer a delightful escape for players of all ages and backgrounds. They’re a brilliant way to banish anxiety, bring families together, and give your brain an extra boost.   Hope you found this article as enlightening as I did.

And if you are inspired to pick up your pencil, visit our website for some great options. Keep in mind if you’d like info on purchasing magazines in bulk for your organization or business, be sure to contact me directly.