Wellness Wednesday – 5 Mental Benefits of Board Games

wellness wednesday logo banner

Community members are ditching phones, tablets, computers, and TV screens in favor of the comfort of tabletop board games, at least occasionally. In an age of hyperconnectivity, unplugging for a couple of hours seems like a revolutionary way to explore, connect, and discover. Sales of board games and puzzles have shot up over the past few years as friends, neighbors, and families discover (or rediscover) the mental and social benefits – and, sometimes, friendly rifts – that come with competitive and cooperative gameplay.

Check out five mental wellness benefits of playing board games and scroll to the bottom for information on joining others for board games at Asheville community centers.

Make Connections

Modern work, school, and extracurricular schedules can pose a challenge to spending time with even the most important people in our lives. A long lunch with friends, family dinner night, or coffee date with a neighbor sometimes won’t happen for weeks at a time. However, kids don’t wait for dinner parties and formal meetups to socialize. They do it by playing! Spending time around a tabletop game doesn’t have to be a high-frills event that requires a lot of planning. Just lay out the game and start having fun.

Build Memory, Logic, and Reasoning

Speaking to the power of play in child development, many popular board games can help kids, teens, and young adults with problem solving, decision making, deferring gratification, and dealing with mistakes. Chess, Chutes and Ladders, Settlers of Catan, Monopoly, Clue, mancala, and memory match games foster the ability to concentrate and focus for a period of time.

Boost Brainpower

Many classic games like chess, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, and Pictionary challenge creative and analytical thought processes, giving both sides of the brain something to do. Even the simple act of learning the rules and playing a new game can help your mind grow stronger, according to Central Connecticut State University.

Protect Against Dementia

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 5.8 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, including around 200,000 under the age of 65. A 2013 study found risk of dementia was 15 percent lower in board game players vs. non-players over a 20 year period, concluding that stimulating leisure activities are considered possible protective factors against dementia and cognitive decline.

Reduce Stress

While your heart may race when you’re about to spade an ace or your blood pressure rises in reaction to a competitive opponent, a 2017 study suggests playing board games can help lower stress and increase feelings of calmness. Many table gamers say they play to unwind and relax. Of course, many board games lead to bouts of laughter that stimulate endorphins. The simple act of having fun can help boost serotonin, relieve symptoms of anxiety, and increase enthusiasm in other areas of your life.

Looking to make new connections around the table?

Asheville Parks & Recreation hosts organized board games and schedules “community choice” times throughout the week in which community members can access air-conditioned community centers to play basketball, enjoy board games and cards, and more.


Twice a month, Asheville Parks & Recreation shares a resource or tip that can help in the development of intellectual, emotional, occupational, environmental, financial, spiritual, physical, or social wellbeing. For previous Wellness Wednesday articles, check out the archive.