Play a game today with a friend, or a computer

Why is it I always feel guilty playing bridge with the computer late at night? What fun it is to throw in a hand when you don’t like it, or play it over when you forgot the ace of trump was still out.
Actually, playing bridge with the computer is one of my favourite things to do, and yet there’s always this gnawing feeling that somehow I ought to be doing something constructive with my time. Even at midnight.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved playing games. Scrabble. Monopoly. Rook. Risk. Mah Jongg. Pinochle. Clue. Bridge. Solitaire. Especially solitaire–15 different kinds of solitaire.
It was years ago that a young high school girl visited our house for an afternoon and saw me sitting cross-legged on the floor playing solitaire on the coffee table.
She watched for a while in puzzled silence, and then with more perplexity than tact blurted out, “I don’t see how you can sit there and play cards like that all the time!”
The truth is, it isn’t hard at all to sit there and play cards like that. It’s fun. And besides, it’s one of the best things you can do for your mind.
“‘Use it or lost it’ applies to your mind as well as your body,” asserts the “Mayo Clinic Health Letter.” And the article goes on to suggest that people work crossword puzzles or play Scrabble to help keep their minds sharp.
Mental abilities don’t inevitably decline with age, says Mayo. They just need exercise.
Memory guru Harry Lorayne agrees wholeheartedly. In a recent article in “Bottom Line TOMORROW,” he says, “I am 70 years old. I can remember 500 names at a time or numerals consisting of an almost infinite number of digits.”
Lorayne credits his mental acuity to a memory system he’s designed with a series of daily exercises–a system that truly exercises the brain.
David Roth, an earlier memory expert, was Lorayne’s role model. And Lorayne tells of attending Roth’s 94th birthday party. Anticipating the party, Roth said, “I won’t do much, just get everyone’s name and telephone number . . . and repeat it back . . . person by person.”
Needless to say, Roth had his full mental capacity when he died at age 96.
When it comes to the brain, you simply can’t afford to be a couch potato. The one thing you can’t risk is your physical body lasting longer than your mind.
Fortunately, the experts tell us there are lots of ways to strengthen brain power. Get enough physical exercise. Walk. Eat the right foods. Practice deep breathing and meditation. Do memory exercises. Get out of your rut and learn new things. Do crossword puzzles and play Scrabble. Drink plenty of water. Avoid environmental contaminants. Let go of stress.
It turns out, for the most part, what preserves the body also preserves the brain.
You’ve been given one brain and it has to last you for a lifetime. There are no transplants. So why not start exercising it today?
And can you think of a better way to start than with a game? A game you love. Get out the yellowed Scrabble game, put on the coffee pot and invite in friends. Or turn on the computer and double click the bridge icon.
Think of it as calisthenics for the mind. Age-proofing of the brain. And while you’re exercising, above all, remember to have fun.

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