The Benefits of Puzzles

It may seem to you that spending time doing puzzles is rather frivolous and a waste of time. But you'd be quite wrong (sorry about that). Solving puzzles and playing word games — whether crosswords, word searches, cryptograms, Scrabble, or anagrams — provides many benefits, some of which may be surprising to you. Read on!

Tip: If you are serious about improving your vocabulary, then Troy and I highly recommend you try the popular vocabulary software, Ultimate Vocabulary. Click Ultimate Vocabulary for further information.*

Here are some of the top benefits of solving puzzles; you can see that you don't need to feel guilty about including some puzzle pleasure time in your daily schedule!

Brain Workout

Working puzzles is great "exercise" for your brain. Various studies have shown that staying mentally active, and challenging your noggin with tricky conundrums and new experiences is a great way to stay mentally active and on the ball, whether you're twenty or ninety. This activity may help to stave off dementia. It appears from the research that doing a particular activity will improve that particular function of the brain — so, for example, playing a memory game will improve your memory, while doing jigsaws will improve your spatial and pattern recognition skills. Solving word-based puzzles and playing word games like Boggle™ and Scrabble™ will improve your language skills.

Banish Boredom

Let's face it, puzzles are fun! If you're often stuck on public transport, or in waiting rooms, or have time to kill while the kids are in drama class, a small volume of puzzles in your bag and a pen will help to while away that tedious waiting time. Word games are great fun to play with your family and friends. You don't have to buy expensive games, either. The Dictionary Game is a hilarious game, and all you need is some paper, pens, and a dictionary.

Increase Your Vocabulary

Solving puzzles, especially crosswords and word searches, is a fantastic and painless way of increasing your vocabulary. As you answer clues, fill in the grids, or hunt for words in a word search, your brain is learning the new words, and the activity of solving the puzzle helps to fix the new word in your brain. You can even create your own word searches using a vocabulary or spelling word list you've put together yourself.

Improve Your Spelling

Looking for words in a word search forces you to look at the letter sequence of each word in detail, and can really help with learning new spelling. Filling in crosswords also relies on the words being spelled correctly, which helps you to remember difficult spelling.

What To Look For

Puzzles that provide you with a new experience are important, so if you've never given crosswords a try, now's the time to tackle your first one! Stimulation is important; look for activities that force you to concentrate. A word search may not present you with much of a challenge, but a cryptogram might be much more engaging for you. Find the puzzles that make your brain sweat a bit. Another aspect to look for is a gradual increase in difficulty; you want to slowly build up the difficulty level of the puzzles you're solving. And, finally, it's good to have some sense of reward at the end of your puzzle sessions: a sense of achievement or of having unearthed a hidden message is important.

We have a growing collection of puzzles on this site that focus on particular areas that you might like to practise, such as spelling the hardest words and double letters in spelling.


*Troy and I recommend only products that we have tried and tested. These include Ultimate Vocabulary. We have agreed to receive a commission from some sales of Ultimate Vocabulary software because we are happy to endorse that software.


Last modified on Tuesday, 17 November 2015 05:11
English Language Skills (Denise)

English Language Skills (Denise)

I'm a syndicated puzzle writer, with 8 puzzle books to my name, including Word Searches for Dummies and Cracking Codes and Cryptograms for Dummies (with Mark Koltko-Rivera). I have a background in science and graphic design, and am a trained indexer. My favourite puzzles are cryptic crosswords. and my favourite books are murder mysteries and cookbooks. I am also a very keen knitter.

I write a blog all about puzzles, called Puzzling.

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