We all know about the benefits of staying physically fit.  However, the need of having a strong level of mental fitness is often overlooked and it’s not just activities that require a lot of thought, it’s required.  Staying mentally fit helps with concentration, alertness and memory, all assets we need in daily life.  It may even help to reduce the risk of developing dementia.  Whether you’re in to jigsaw puzzles, crosswords or soduku, it’s important to regularly test your grey matter in some way.  I use gaming as one of my main sources of mental training.

I like to play a wide range of video games but I tend to focus on retro action and puzzle games.  It really doesn’t matter what sort of game you play, just as long as it gets you thinking.

If you hadn’t considered gaming as an option for maintaining mental fitness, then give it a try.  There are games available to suit all tastes, freely available online.

Let me a highlight a couple of games I play to specifically exercise my mental fitness.  For the first one, I want to take you back to school.  I’m talking maths!  Now before you run to the hills at the dread of doing a maths test, hear me out.  I think most of us would admit our maths ability could be better.  Well here’s a chance to practice and improve it and strengthen your mental fitness.  The game in question is called Math Boy.  It’s promoted as being for kids and students but it’s really good whatever your age, for helping to stimulate your brain.

The game is simply a multiple choice maths game.  To begin with, you are presented with five options, they are addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and a combination of all four.  Once you make your choice, you are a given a sum to solve, and four possible answers are displayed.  You only get a few seconds to respond.  Answer correctly and the boy swishes his sword to slay the minion.  You are then awarded a point and move onto the next question.  Answer incorrectly or take too long and the minion reaches the boy and it’s game over.

The sums start off quite easy but become progressively more difficult and the time pressure can easily cause you to slip up.  Try and move onto the combination option once you get the hang of it, for a proper mental workout!

If you think you’ve mastered Math Boy and need something a little more challenging, then I have just the game.  Tetris has been around for years, testing player’s mental agility to destruction.  Tetra Blocks is inspired by the original game.  It is perhaps the ultimate game in mental exercise training.

If you haven’t played the game before, the concept is quite easy to understand.  You start with a series of four blocks which scroll down the screen.  These can form a number of different shapes.  Your objective is to arrange the blocks to complete a row at the bottom, to amass points.  Easy… yes?

You control the position of the blocks by using the arrow keys on your keyboard.  You can move them left and right and also rotate the blocks or even make them scroll down faster, to save time.  There are a couple of nice features that help you with planning the positioning of the blocks.  Firstly, the area the blocks will land is highlighted.  Secondly, the arrangement of the next three blocks are shown.

Yes the game sounds easy and it isn’t too challenging to begin with, but it gets progressively more difficult.  With practice you will improve and it’ll definately test your mental powers, during the process.

If these two games are not for you, then no matter.  There are tons more available and I’m sure you’ll find something you like.

How ever you go about exercising your mind, isn’t important.  What is important is keeping busy by finding something both challenging and enjoyable.  That way you should achieve your objective of maintaining a good level of mental fitness.

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