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How Puzzle Apps Can Stimulate Your Brain

Working puzzles can actually extend one's life, experts say

John Huthmacher Staff Reporter
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Nothing compares with the thrill of when you put a piece where it belongs. When you slap it in there, it makes you feel good all over.
Ed Randolph, retired early childhood education director


All retiree Ed Randolph wanted was something to do.

So when a friend recommended putting together a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces just seemed to fit together for the widowed early childhood education director.

“I had a good time with it,” he said. “It was time well spent, very relaxing and a challenge. When you are done, you’ve got quite a thing before you.”

Since discovering puzzles, he has been turning his assembled works of art into framed artwork, pieces he donates to retirement homes across the Midwest. In addition to those he has converted to wall art, he has donated dozens of puzzles from his personal collection of works by Americana artist Charles Wysocki, select Canadian artists, and masterworks of world-famous artists like Leonardo da Vinci.

Sharing the joy of working puzzles has nearly become an obsession for the 77-year-old. As both a tool and hobby, he finds there is much to gain from putting the pieces together.

“Everybody appreciates a good piece of art,” he said. “Putting together a puzzle can be a social thing too.

“It’s good mental exercise. You’ve got to be able to hold in your mind the color and shape of the pieces. Nothing compares with the thrill of when you put a piece where it belongs. When you slap it in there, it makes you feel good all over.”

Use These Apps, Live Longer

Through apps like Monument Valley, Interlocked, and Jigsaw Puzzles, users can take their favorite brain-teasing puzzles with them wherever they go. With dazzling graphics and thousands of options ranging from 3D interlocking pieces to architectural mazes and classic jigsaw offerings, these apps give users plenty to think about while keeping their minds stimulated on multiple levels.

What many don’t know about puzzles is that there is much more to them than meets the eye. A 2018 article in the Wilmington Star identifies several benefits associated with working puzzles, among them: 

- Improvement of short-term memory.

- Exercising the left and right sides of the brain simultaneously.

- Stress relief.

- Familial bonding opportunities.

- And even the likelihood of a longer life free of dementia and other mental illnesses.

Puzzles Unlock Creative Thinking

As a father of 7, grandfather, and former Youth for Christ after school program director, senior pastor Joe Marino has seen firsthand how puzzles can play a positive role in the lives of those who ponder them on a regular basis. Both as a social and mental stimulant, puzzles enable users to juggle several concepts at once, giving them the tools and confidence they need to better handle whatever challenges may come their way.

“We grow in a variety of ways: Spiritually, physically, and socially,” Marino said. “Playing puzzle games, we can interact with all specters of our growth.

Keeping Idle Hands Busy

A brain occupied by positive thinking is far less likely to stray into troublesome activities than one lacking direction or aim, Marino said.

“There’s the old saying that idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” he said. “I think what puzzles do is promote a holistic view of growth - physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.”



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How Puzzle Apps Can Stimulate Your Brain

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