Train Your Brain with Trivia

Stephanie Jones – Guest Writer

If you are worried about mental decline as you age, one of the best ways to prevent it is to keep your brain active and healthy.  Just as we need to keep our bodies healthy with exercise and diet, keeping our brain healthy depends on what we feed it and ask it to do.  Mental gymnastics such as crosswords and number puzzles like Sudoku are just the tip of the iceberg, trivia nights and bar quizzes are an excellent way to train your brain and keep you sharp.

Useless information or brain exercises?

Learning what some may call useless information can actually be very good for our brain’s health.  Trivia keeps us smart and engaged by exercising the frontal cortex of our brain – the same section that is utilized for memory processing.  As trivia questions often cover a range of unrelated topics, we’re asked to remember information from areas of our brain that aren’t necessarily used a lot – significantly improving cognition and recall by building these connections within our grey matter.

If you’re worried that a late night out at a bar quiz might damage your healthy in other ways, occasional bar snacks and drinks as you work your way through a quiz don’t have to adversely impact your health if you’re careful, and the social element of a pub trivia night provides further benefits to your overall health.  Communicating with others in a face to face environment boosts our immune system, releases oxytocin in our systems and decreases cortisol, somewhat combatting a little late night indulgence.

Word Games and Sudoku

Word and number puzzles require us to employ logic and make connections that aren’t readily obvious.  Simply trying to figure out the answer to a crossword, or the number for the next square in a game of Sudoku is what makes the difference to your brain health.  Working through a crossword with a friend can boost cognition even further, thus supporting brain plasticity and better brain health as we age.

If you are looking for word or number puzzles that will give your brain a work-out, choose something you will find challenging mentally.  Simply taking part in puzzles that are fun, but don’t require too much mental effort, won’t provide the level of difficulty that your brain needs to stay fit.  Just as we need to challenge our bodies to build and maintain muscle, to keep our brains fit,  we need to challenge them by learning new things. This will have a lasting effect on the brain’s health.

The best brain training games

Crosswords, Sudoku, logic games, jigsaw puzzles and crafting are all good for keeping our brains active; but what’s the best way to train your brain and protect yourself from mental decline?  While a bar quiz might not sound like the best place to maintain your health and fitness, the social interaction combined with the range of trivia questions that sometimes require out-of-the-box thinking or recalling little known facts, is one of the best ways to keep your mind sharp.

Choosing quizzes that you can do as part of a team, have a natural curiosity about, and speak to your passion for a particular range of topics is one of the best ways to support a healthy brain.  The social element of pub trivia nights further enhances mental well-being, reducing feelings of depression, loneliness and stress.  The skills employed to participate as a group can increase self-esteem and provide motivation for further learning – there is nothing quite like getting the answer right at a trivia night!