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More Than Fun: Puzzles’ Surprising Health Benefits



When many of us want a fun and engaging way to pass the time, puzzles are a tried-and-true option. Historians say the first physical puzzle was developed around 1760 when a mapmaker mounted a map and sawed around the countries, resulting in the world’s first known jigsaw puzzle. Before that, people had long turned to riddles and other word puzzles for fun and amusement.

Today, jigsaw, word, number, and digital puzzles remain as popular as ever. Research has shown that as of late 2022, 71% of women and 68% of men enjoyed doing puzzles. And as the world turned to social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic, puzzle sales went up by 300-400%.

The reasons why people of all ages love puzzles are easy to identify, according to researchers. For adults, puzzles can prompt meditative and engrossing feelings. Their often-individual nature also makes them a great option for people to do at home. The go-anywhere pastime is a particularly good option for older adults because, in addition to the calming feelings people experience with puzzles, they also have demonstrated strong benefits for brain health.

Although they’re engrossing, they also require active brain work, strategy, and determination. At the Baylor College of Medicine, researchers found puzzles can improve memory, cognition, and visual-spatial reasoning. Additionally, using puzzles for brain sharpening can also lead to a boost in imagination, creativity, and productivity. These benefits are especially important for older adults.

If you’re new to puzzling or just looking for a new puzzle type, why not give some of these popular puzzle types a try?

  • Jigsaw puzzles: These traditional puzzles come in many formats including:
    • The traditional 2-D jigsaw puzzle
    • Often well-known structures such as the Eiffel Tower have been turned into 3-D Puzzles
    • Coloring puzzles, in which solvers put the puzzle together before coloring in its outlined picture.
  • Word puzzles: These include things like:
    • Word search
    • Crossword
    • Anagrams
    • Ciphers
    • Letter arrangement games like Scrabble or Words With Friends
  • Logic puzzles: These puzzles require reasoning and logic to solve a given scenario. Popular logic puzzles also include:
    • Sudoku
    • Nonograms
    • Logic mazes
  • Brain teasers: Like logic puzzles, these require unconventional thinking to solve. Among the most popular are riddles.
  • Mechanical puzzles: These puzzles get puzzlers to use both their hands and their mind. Examples include:
    • Rubik’s cube
    • Tangled nails
    • Dissection or construction puzzles.
  • Sleuthing puzzles: These ask players to solve mysteries and whodunit scenarios. Hunt a Killer is a popular modern sleuthing puzzle.
  • Digital puzzles: Many of the above puzzles can be found in digital format on various web pages and mobile apps. It can often be more convenient for people to turn to their smartphones instead of keeping track of physical puzzles.


There are also many other puzzles like Mine Finder – a type of battleship solitaire, Nurikabe, and cryptograms to capture your attention. Whether you love the word search, sudoku, jigsaw, or digital puzzles, keeping them an active part of your life can improve your mental health and acuity. It would be puzzling if anyone didn’t want that.


Do you or a loved one need help at home? Email now to learn how we can alleviate stress and provide individuals with the highest quality of life.

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