Even if you don’t play Wordle, chances are you’ve heard of it. The trending pun has become a fan favorite, helping people – even us in the newsroom – start their mornings off with a little puzzle.
Wordle is just the latest puzzle game to gain so much popularity. (Remember Sudoku or the crossword craze?) But studies suggest that Wordle isn’t just a fun challenge, it can also be good for your brain.
“My idea of these types of puns is that if you enjoy them and they challenge you, then you can’t (just) do it on autopilot (and) you have to really think about it, so that’s really helps you a good goal in terms of supporting your brain health for life,” said Dr. Jessica Caldwell, a neuropsychologist at the Cleveland Clinic.
According to Dr. Caldwell, there’s no minimum amount of time you need to spend solving word puzzles each day – what matters most is that you play them regularly. These games should also provide a challenge, so if a particular game gets too easy, experts say you need to change it.
“In order to keep your memory and your thinking sharp, the key really is challenge and learning,” Caldwell said. “Those are the only ways to actually exercise your brain, you grow new neural pathways, you support old neural pathways, so the key is you can’t just be ‘busy’.”
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But what if you don’t like Wordle?
Dr. Caldwell says there are many other options for you. Any type of activity that challenges your thinking will do just fine.
For example, experts say you could read a book or watch a documentary and then have an in-depth conversation about it with a friend.
And it’s not just the mental gymnastics that count: exercise can help improve your brain health by increasing blood flow. One of the best exercises for your brain is dancing because it literally forces you to think on your feet.
If you like word games, to increase the benefits of these games, you can push each puzzle a little further. For example, if you don’t know the meaning of the Wordle answer one day, look it up and try to use that word throughout the day.
Or, if the answer is something simple like “snail,” challenge yourself to try drawing a snail or learn how to say “snail” in other languages. It’s about creating new neural pathways in your brain and making connections to old ones.
The more connections you make, the bigger the boost.
Related: Ann Arbor named Wordle’s third-best city in the United States
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