Two years ago I had gotten bored in class and decided to mess around on my school laptop. Because I was supposed to be working on classwork, my teacher called out those of us who were fooling around. She told us that we were in school and that playing games wasn’t a good time commitment. Since I was so incredibly bored, I decided to argue with my teacher that the crossword puzzle I was doing was actually educational and was working my brain! At the moment I said this statement confidently, but is it actually true? Are crosswords better than any other game?
After the first crossword puzzle was created in 1913, a puzzle craze had begun. These black and white tiles mesmerized the masses, slowly popping up in the Sunday editions of magazines all over the world. I would assume that the high of finishing a full puzzle is something that could hook players alone, but there actually is proven evidence as to why you should love crosswords.
A study published in the NEJM Evidence online journal actually conducted a study involving mildly cognitively impaired participants aged between 62 to 80 years old. Throughout the study, these participants had 4, 30-minute sessions a week for 12 whole weeks. These participants either focused on crossword games or online memory games. After the 12 weeks, all of the participants were given a test on a 70-point scale, and those who were in the crossword group scored an average of 2 points higher compared to those who played online memory games! Notably, cholinesterase inhibitors, which are commonly used to treat Alzheimer's (which some of these participants had) were also proven to help increase Alzheimer's patients by 2 points on the same 70-point scale. These results prove that doing crosswords actually helps improve mental ability and memory.
Crosswords are not only good for your memory, but also your social life. As I discussed in my last blog, community, and relationships are the foundation of a balanced life. Social connection can actually cause a 50% increase chance of longevity. When combined with the mental advantages, the social benefits of crossword puzzles become even more apparent.
Personally, crosswords have become something that I enjoy doing with my friends and family, and even something I look forward to discussing with teachers. Nothing can beat sitting around a newspaper or computer calling out clues, and waiting for others to help bounce ideas around. The joy I've discovered in these square grids is something I hope others can experience in their lives. If you're reading this, I encourage you to open a tab and start a crossword puzzle journey. I recommend trying the New York Times daily Mini puzzle. Good luck!
Presley Russell, Bentonville, 12th grade