This Is Your Brain on Games


I’m not taking any chances.

There are things that I know.

I know regular exercise strengthens my heart, my limbs—my entire body.

I know a sound diet—balanced, with limited sugars and fats—aids my overall health and complements my exercise regiment.

I know drinking water equal to half my body weight (in ounces) helps me counteract toxins and lose weight. (If only I could do it every day.)

I know I need (but rarely get) at least seven hours sleep.

I know flexibility is critical for optimal fitness, strength and healing. (So why don’t I spend more time stretching after my workouts?!)

What I don’t know is if so-called “brain games” actually help my brain.

I don’t know if doing sudoku, chess and myriad other games—along with a daily crossword puzzle and some hangman—actually help me be smarter and, perhaps more important, stave off the mental effects of aging: memory loss and perhaps even Alzheimer’s and dementia.

I don’t know if, by doing mental squats and presses every day, I might eventually actually be able to help my kids with their homework.

Though I don’t know for sure, I’m not taking any chances.

Because I know they don’t hurt.

I know this because there are more studies than you can count on the effects of games on the brain—whether they regenerate loss brain capacity or stymie future damage. And fortunately, most of them say, at least to some degree, yes—even if their results were largely based on the effects of brain games on rats.


Roy S. Johnson
Men’s Fitness
Editor In Chief