Often known as a game for the intellectually gifted, chess is the best sport to exercise the most important organ in our bodies: the brain. While Chess Grandmaster Bobby Fischer made it popular in the 1950s and 1960s, the game is still widely played around the world today among participants of all ages, from the young to the elderly. The game of chess might not help you build your biceps or tone your abs, but your lifelong mental health can certainly benefit from it.
Promotes brain growth: Games like chess that challenge the brain actually stimulate the growth of dendrites, the bodies that send out signals from the brain’s neuron cells. With more dendrites, neural communication within the brain improves and becomes faster.
It exercises both sides of the brain: A German study indicated that when chess players were asked to identify chess positions and geometric shapes, both the left and right hemispheres of the brain became highly active. Their reaction times to the simple shapes were the same, but the experts were using both sides of their brains to more quickly respond to the chess position questions.
Raises your IQ: Do smart people play chess, or does chess make people smart? At least one scientific study has shown that playing the game can actually raise a person’s IQ.
Helps prevent Alzheimer’s: As we age, it becomes increasingly important to give the brain a workout, just as you would every other major muscle group, in order to keep it healthy and fit.
Sparks your creativity: Playing chess helps unleash your originality, since it activates the right side of the brain, the side responsible for creativity.
Increases problem-solving skills: A chess match requires fast thinking and problem-solving on the fly because your opponent is constantly changing the parameters.
Teaches planning and foresight: One of the last parts of the brain to develop during adolescence is the prefrontal cortex, the area responsible for judgment, planning and self-control. Because playing chess requires strategic and critical thinking, it helps promote prefrontal cortex development and helps teenagers make better decisions in all areas of life.
Optimizes memory improvement: Chess players know that playing chess improves your memory, mainly because of the complex rules you have to remember, as well as the memory recall needed when trying to avoid previous mistakes or remembering a certain opponent’s playing style. Good chess players have exceptional memory performance and recall.