When you learn how to play chess, you are doing so much more than learning how to play an iconic game that is beloved by countless people around the world. You are actually benefiting in many ways—mentally, physically and even socially—by playing the game of chess, whether you are a young player learning chess for children or you’re an adult who has played recreationally for the past 2 decades.
If you want to know more about the secret benefits of playing chess, read on to find out the top best secret health benefits of chess that you never knew before.
Playing chess reduces stress
Playing even one game of chess can actually reduce the stress levels in your body! And if you play regularly, the effects of the stress reduction are more widespread. A decrease in stress levels is beneficial for many reasons, as a decrease in stress will help lower your risk for heart attack, stroke, and a host of other medical complications. Decreases in stress are also necessary for improved mental health, as a build-up of stress can lead to numerous mental health issues such as anxiety or even depression.
Playing chess improves memory and may help with memory loss
One of the best kept secrets about chess is the game’s ability to improve your memory function and possibly even help with memory loss. Research has shown that people from all age ranges—children, adults and the elderly—can all reap the benefits of improved memory when they regularly participate in chess games. It is believed that the fact that chess pieces and moves require memorization, in addition to the importance of memorizing strategies and other board positions, may be one of the key reasons why playing chess improves memory loss.
Regular chess helps lower your blood pressure
High blood pressure can cause all sorts of havoc in your body, including an increased risk for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, kidney problems—and much more. Regularly playing chess is one way that you can reduce your blood pressure naturally, especially if you play on regular basis over an extended period of time.
This particularly benefit is great for older players as well as elderly players, who are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure than younger players. It’s important to note that this benefit typically sees better results when the play is regular, such as weekly or even daily games, and that playing a single game of chess likely won’t result in any significant blood pressure difference.
Learning and playing chess increases your ability to problem solve
One of the most overlooked benefits of playing chess is the game’s ability to increase your own ability to problem solve. Chess is a complicated strategy game that can result in many different problems that must be solved at any given moment; when you are forced to confront those problems, alter your own strategies and otherwise think on your feet to solve an issue, you are actively improving on your ability to problem solve both inside and outside the box.
This is a mental health benefit that can greatly improve your quality of life, especially if you are currently in school or you work a job which requires on-your-feet thinking that will greatly benefit from you improving your problem solving skills.
Chess increases your IQ
This little known secret is something that many parents are gradually learning—and subsequently jumping on as a starting point for their own children’s education. While the exact results may vary from person to person and there is no guarantee in regards to how much your IQ will rise, one thing is certain: playing chess regularly increases your IQ to at least some degree.
The best way for both young and older players to take advantage of this benefit by engaging in frequent tournament play or at-home play, as the more you play, the higher the potential for your increased IQ points. C
Chess may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease
There is significant research being done on the ability for chess to help prevent or at least mollify occurrences of Alzheimer’s disease, even in patients with family histories of developing Alzheimer’s disease. One particular study by the Albert Einstein College found that there was a decrease in the occurrence of dementia in elderly patients who regularly played chess.
This reduction in the risk for Alzheimer’s is linked to the fact that playing chess stimulates brain function, which in turn decreases the risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s in elderly patients. It is even possible that playing chess at a younger age will also help reduce this risk as the player gets older.
Playing chess can help people with impaired motor functions
One of the most notable health benefits of chess is the ability for the game to help improve poor motor function in people who are experiencing decreased motor function as the result of accidents, injuries, illnesses or simply the effects of getting older. Improved motor function is an integral part of physical therapy and can help improve your self-confidence, self-esteem and your overall mood.
Some chess sets are even designed for people with poor motor function, such as chess sets made with magnetic pieces that are designed to not fall over or be knocked down as easily as standard pieces which can be quite light or even fragile. s
Playing chess can be a fun hobby, a way to past the time, or even something to pursue as a career if you would like to take it in that direction—but chess also has some surprising health benefits that can help you physically and mentally in ways that you never knew were possible. If you’re ready to embrace some of the best hidden health benefits of chess, don’t wait: pick up a board, refresh your memory on all the rules, and start to play the game of chess again. You—and your health!—will be glad you took this step.