Few things are scarier than spending the end of your life with dementia, unable to communicate or think clearly because words escape you. Unable to recognize people you loved and cared for your entire life. Unable to remember how to do the simple things you used to do without even having to think about them. What if I told you there’s a fun, easy way to not only help prevent dementia, but make your brain smarter now?

Research shows that challenging your brain keeps it sharp and smart. Learning new things is one way to do it. Spend some time learning new languages and new skills. Puzzles are great for your brain, too—and they’re loads of fun! Study after study has shown that simple logical puzzles are extremely beneficial in terms of keeping your mind active and sharp. Evidence also suggests that puzzles are particularly good for elderly people and may slow those debilitating illnesses that do so much harm to the minds of senior citizens. They do this by giving the brain a ‘workout’—a lot like taking your brain to the gym. This exercise for your mind increases and stimulates the connections between neurons, making your brain faster and more efficient.

But it’s not just the elderly who would do well to pick up a puzzle book. Simple puzzles and games can be of great benefit to all of us, whether we’re looking to improve our memory, pass the time in a constructive way, or generally keep our minds sharp and ticking—and possibly add a couple of IQ points in the process! In fact, studies have shown that the brain needs regular training to stay fit and healthy, and the benefits of giving yourself regular stimulation from logic puzzles include better memory, increased concentration, and even better mental and physical health.

Everyone knows that puzzles are great fun! From crosswords to anagrams, Scrabble to Sudoku, word and number games help pass the time and give enjoyment to millions of people. There’s something incredibly satisfying about the feeling you get when you’ve just cracked a puzzle—and simple puzzles are always handy to have on your person, ready to entertain you during a boring lull. Just think of those tedious times spent waiting for trains or buses, or at the end of your lunch break before you have to go back to work….

One thing many people struggle with when it comes to picking up a puzzle, however, is a fear that it’s going to be too hard, or that they don’t know exactly how to proceed when it comes to working out the answers. But fear not— we have a handy guide to some of the main types of puzzles that you may encounter.

Tips and Tricks for Solving Puzzles

Cryptograms

Cryptograms basically involve cracking a code. Think of James Bond spy novels, safe code cracking, or the German Enigma machine, and you’ll be in the right ballpark. Many people love the challenge of putting their minds to work trying to spot patterns. The rush you get when you finally start to make sense of a jumble of letters or numbers can be a huge thrill!

There are some simple ways to begin to break a code. You might start by looking for short words—one, two, and three letter words. You know that one letter words are going to be a vowel—likely an “a” or an “i” and two letter words are probably a vowel and a consonant. Notice patterns and use some logic. If the same two letters start a two letter word and a three letter word, there’s a good chance the letters are “a” and “n,” and the two words are “an” and “and.” Look for simple word patterns that are common in the English language—such as in words like always, never, or people (A–A–, -E-E-, -EO–E). Also look out for common prefixes or suffixes (word beginnings or endings) like DE-, DIS-, PRE-, or -ABLE, -IBLE, -ING. (In the cryptograms in our puzzle books, we always give you a headstart by giving you three letters as clues. : )

Anagrams

Anagrams are really just another form of cryptograms, so again you’re looking for the patterns in order to make sense of the rearranged word. Try rearranging the letters again into a circular pattern on the page. This will not only help to break up misleading sound combinations in the original anagram word, but will also make it easier for you to spot the different letter groupings that you might be able to connect together.

Sudoku

Sudoku, or Number Place, is a numbers game where the object is to complete the grid so that every row, column, and smaller 3×3 sub-grid contains all of the digits from 1 to 9. The setter of the puzzle will present a partially-filled grid, and your task will be to find the solution and fill in all of the gaps.

When it comes to Sudoku there are some general principles you can follow, such as filling in the obvious numbers first. This will make it progressively easier to solve the rest of the puzzle, as the number of potential combinations becomes smaller by a process of elimination.

You could also try using a “roving eye” technique, with your eyes constantly scanning the grid looking for patterns. And remember, don’t just guess in Sudoku. Since it’s a logical process, you’ll save yourself a lot of time by only adding numbers to the grid when you’re absolutely sure they belong.

Crosspatches

Crosspatches are easy when you realize they’re basically just a matter of counting letters and boxes and making everything fit!

 

These are just some of the types of puzzles that are available for you to try, so get your brain in gear and get cracking today!

Check out our Dancing Dragon page on Amazon to see a list of all of our available puzzle books so you can start your healthy brain fun workout now! 

We also want to tell you about a website we found that’s a fully-equipped mental gymnasium to give your brain an Olympic-sized work-out! It’s called Brilliant. Wow, what can we say? It’s free, so get warmed up for those mental push-ups! 

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