It should come as no surprise that people play games because they are fun! In fact, research shows that 65 percent of adults in the United States say playing games gives them a way to socialize – and everyone loves to laugh with friends and family.

The hidden truth is that board games are a great way to boost brain power, reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and increase patience.

In fact, the time it takes to learn a new game is great for your brain. “Developing from a beginner into a seasoned board game player can increase the gray matter volume in the brain, increasing cognitive function and improving the ability to make decisions,” according to

Alinda Cox, county extension agent for Family and Community Health at the Jacksboro-based Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, recently led the latest in Faith Community Health’s Learning Series: “Game Night with Faith.”

“I want people to understand that playing games and having fun with friends is important,” she said. “When you play games, you keep your mind sharp.”

Memory games, for example, keep concentration on high alert. Number games, such as Sudoku, help with reasoning and speed of processing.

During the event, Cox encouraged the attendees to play dominoes and cards. “Both of these games keep you on your toes and help with reasoning and memory. People who have always played cards were using strategy and those who haven’t played in a while had to use their memories to get the hang of it again,” she explained. “Plus, everyone was laughing and joking around and having a great time.”

Cox also suggested that Bingo is a great game – in groups or solo – because it requires you to process information quickly. “You have to pay attention and stay focused,” and that’s important regardless of your age, she added.

Speaking of playing games with young children – when you do, everyone benefits. “Family game time is a great way to interact with young ones,” she said. “Everyone is learning and keeping skills sharp without realizing it because they are having fun!”

Overall, playing brain training games can make you feel more productive and give your mind a workout, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day. Plus, it’s a better use of your time than mindlessly scrolling through social media!