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Seniors and Life Sports V – 5 Health Benefits of Board Games


For the last four weeks, I have shared the benefits of several life sports most anyone can participate in. This week I am winding up the series, listing benefits that can be derived from board or card games. I’m sure you’re groaning that I would call these a “life sport.” Hey, if ESPN can call poker a sport, I can call these “life sports.” Truth is, I need to do it this way so I can get, as much as I understand it, Google involved. Sad, but that’s the truth.

It’s safe to say you won’t build chest or shoulder muscles playing bridge, but there are still several benefits to be enjoyed by playing these games. What, exactly, are the games I’m thinking of? Easy. Board games would include Chess, Checkers, Scrabble, Monopoly, Pollyanna, Clue and Bingo. Popular card games are Bridge, Poker, Hearts and Gin Rummy. And, don’t forget puzzles or Dominoes. There are others, but you get the idea. Here are some of the benefits.


  • Strengthens memory SkillsMarcus Jones, the founder of The Links Foundation, cites an article from the New England Journal of Medicine which refers to studies showing that board games can improve memory skills in both the young and old.


  • Lowers blood pressureHealth Fitness Revolution, an online magazine, cites research stating board games “can help you lower or maintain your blood pressure. This release of endorphins helps muscles to relax and blood to circulate, which will lower your blood pressure.”


  • Improves hand-eye coordinationNurse Buff (this is for real and very “G-rated”), a site dedicated to nurses and their charges, lists several games for seniors that help improve hand-eye coordination as well as memory.


  • Sense of AccomplishmentSusan Bruketta, CEO of Home Care Assistance of Albuquerque, cites that clients when participating in playing challenging games have a sense of accomplishment when they complete a turn or finish a game.


  • Builds CommunityBrown -Wilcox, an assisted living center in Berlin, WI, has found that encouraging residents to play board games builds friendships, community, and a sense of camaraderie.


 For five weeks I have presented life sports ranging from heavy physical activity to those that are moderate to low. The benefits I’ve shared are definitely not all that can be realized. There are others. The level of independence that can be achieved, be it Pickleball or Monopoly, is equal to the energy exerted in that chosen endeavor. Not every senior can bowl or even want to, but there are scores of other games to choose from. I have barely reached the tip of the iceberg.

Whether you are a senior, caregiver or adult child, I encourage you to find and choose or help choose a life sport that is challenging and enjoyable. The benefits can last a lifetime.