Let’s be honest; these days, there is plenty we could worry about if we chose to! It would take less than a second for most of us to rattle off the latest stressor in our lives. Here in our home, we’ve been recovering from Covid, so laughter (and distractions) were needed!
That’s why today, this post is meant to bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart! This fun post is all about where you can play games for free online, and most importantly, why you should do it for your health!
Could playing games actually make you smarter and improve your mental health? Research says yes! Check out these reasons you should enjoy a little gaming in your life and our favorite place to play for free! #gaming #health #freeonlinegamesTweet
Can I really play games for free online that improve my health and brain function?
This is one of those times where what sounds too good to be true really is true! Improving our health doesn’t always have to be some kind of boring or dreadful experience.
Don’t believe me? There’s actual science to back up these claims I’m making today. 😊 Plus, I’ll share with you some games I’ve found to be both challenging and fun in a few of the categories, and where you can play them too.
Games can improve your memory
A fascinating study published in the journal of Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, found that the memory of older participants did actually improve after playing strategy games.
Given the neural and cognitive correlates of strategy game learning, strategy games may provide a more beneficial training tool for adults suffering from memory-related disorders or declines in processing speed, particularly older adults.Dr. Chandramallika Basak from The Center for Vital Longevity
If you’ve ever played any kind of game that really made you think your way through it, you’ll know what we mean.
A great example of this is a simple but fun game I found recently on plays.org called Farm Town.
There were 40 levels to complete and each level had a time limit of 10 minutes. In order to win each level, you had to grow the crops or raise the meat required to make a number of different recipes.
Each recipe was unique and ranged from easy (only 1 or 2 ingredients) to difficult with 4 or 5 ingredients. As the game progressed in difficulty, you had to strategize how to get all the ingredients needed to make all the required recipes within the amount of time you’re given.
The better your memory became of which ingredients were needed for each individual recipe, the quicker you could cook what was required.
It sounded so simple but it really did challenge my memory — and it was a lot of fun!
Games aren’t just for kids! Studies have proven that strategy games can help aging adults improve their memory and overall brain health too! #gaming #health #onlinegamesTweet
If farming and cooking aren’t your thing (no hard feelings!), there are literally hundreds of other strategy games to choose from, all for free! Best of all, there are no ads, either. My husband and I have enjoyed quite a few since I discovered this site.
Warning: It can be addictive! 😊
Gaming helps you learn a lot faster
Each of us have a certain way we learn best. Some people do really well with learning from reading or listening, while others need to try it ‘hands on.’
As Christopher Thorne explains for The School Run, “Children learn better through play and experience than through “chalk and talk.”
It’s true for us adults as well. The next time you want to learn a new language, skill, or get better at something (like Math — God help me!), see if there’s an educational game or app that could help you ‘play’ your way into mastery.
Overall, I think we all need to spend less time in front of a screen for our well-being! But, I do think it is possible to play games for free online that keep our brains sharp, improves our mental health, and help us learn a little something too.
Keep those lightning fast reflexes and coordination
Okay, I heard you — some of us weren’t born blessed with great coordination to start with! This is true. But, it’s no laughing matter because as we age, our reflexes and hand eye coordination can really start to lag behind.
If you think of it, our reflexes and hand eye coordination affect our daily lives, from driving a car to cooking food.
Thankfully, research has shown that playing games can really help, whether we need improvement or want to maintain what we’ve been blessed with.
My husband and I both love pinball and have fond memories of standing at a pinball machine giving it all we got! We both think it’s the perfect game to challenge your reaction times and hand eye coordination.
It’s no wonder pinball machines can be found in many senior centers and still has so many fans worldwide, young and old alike!
We aren’t lucky enough to have a pinball machine in our home at the moment, but we did find some online versions that had us hooked! This was Space Jam Full Court Pinball but there were other versions of pinball we loved too!
Just like most other pinball games, you get 3 balls to play with. On my Mac laptop, the arrow keys control the flippers and the release of each ball.
I’m not sure which is more challenging — in person pinball or the electronic version. Either way, it’s a lot of fun and your reflexes/coordination will get a workout! 😊
Do you have a favorite game that challenges your coordination?
Increase your IQ
This one is fascinating to me. Research found that when study participants played the game Tetris for 30 minutes a day over a 3 month period, the grey matter in their brain increased significantly.
Why is grey matter important? It is believed that, “…people with high IQ scores had significantly more grey matter in 24 of the regions than people with lower scores,” explains nature.com based on a study published in Neuroimage.
That’s not all, though. Tetris has been found to have lots of other benefits such as:
- Helping you have better self-control
- Make your brain more efficient in day to day life
- Improve mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and healing from trauma
- Helps with spatial awareness issues
- Improve your brain’s ability to retain memory and solve problems creatively
Admittedly, I’m not that great at the game, but honestly, it doesn’t matter. I’ll ask my husband if he thinks my IQ has improved yet (ha ha!), but in the meantime, I can honestly say that it does help me focus a lot better.
My mind is prone to being scattered at times with “too many irons in the fire,” but playing Tetris brings me into the moment, making that inner critic shut up for some much needed mind quiet!
The one I’ve been playing most recently is called Tetra Blocks. It plays similar to traditional Tetris but has bonus points if you line up stars in the neon blocks. It is a lot more challenging than it sounds.
As you progress in levels, the blocks fall faster so you really have to think fast to keep going.
It can honestly be pretty addictive trying to outdo your score each time. It’s also interesting to see how much better your brain gets at predicting the blocks and reacting accordingly.
Have you played Tetris or a game that is inspired by it?
Other known benefits of playing games
If you ask my humble opinion, the benefits we’ve already discussed are pretty impressive, but there are more. It’s worth noting how each person may receive different benefits based on which game they’re playing, their age, and current lifestyle.
Here are a few more ways gaming can improve your health:
- Better vision: Protecting our eye health is extremely important. Gaming, especially action-oriented ones, have shown promise at improving peripheral vision and lazy eye in particular.
- Improve your decision-making ability: A study from University of Rochester found that video gamers made quicker and better decisions. They believe, “…video game players develop a heightened sensitivity to what is going on around them,” making them better at many everyday activities.
- Boost your mood: This is one of the reasons video games can become so addictive. When we play, we let go of the stressors we face, allowing our minds and bodies to relax. This naturally gives us the ‘happiness boost’ most of us enjoy.
- Increase your creativity: Problems need solutions and playing helps your brain do just that! It turns out, solving problems in games helps your brain become better at solving issues in your daily life too — at work, in relationships, etc.
- Helps us deal with failure: Wins and losses happen — both in life and in gaming. When we lose a level while gaming, it can teach perseverance and a healthy drive to keep trying. This process can help us deal with failure in a positive way instead of putting ourselves down or quitting when things get tough.
Too much of a good thing
Even though this post has been dedicated to the positive effects of gaming on brain and mental health, there is obviously a dark side too.
It is possible to become addicted to playing games and it can destroy lives.
Game Quitters are dedicated to this very purpose. If you or a loved one is suffering, please take a look at their site. They offer help from people who understand exactly what you’re going through.
People who enjoy playing video games, or games in general, have all sorts of reasons why they love it. One thing is for sure: gaming doesn’t always have to be a bad thing and there are benefits when we play in moderation.
My favorite place to play games for free online is definitely plays.org. We love them because they have thousands of games available, are ad free, and their site is very easy to navigate. Their category page makes finding your favorite genre simple too.
I’d really love to hear from you in the comments!
- What is your favorite genre of game?
- Do you think you’ll be trying out any of these with family or friends?
Whatever game you choose, I hope you have an amazing time and feel a bit like a kid again. We all need fun in our lives where we can let go and relax – no matter our age!
If we can improve our health and brain power while doing it — hey, even better!
Know someone who could use some fun and stress relief? Why not share this post with them? Words can’t say how much I appreciate you sharing! ❤️
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