How can I improve my Sudoku skills

More than "just" Sudoku

Brain jogging

Mentally fit into old age - who wouldn't want that? The so-called "brain jogging", which is supposed to promote mental health, promises a remedy. Whether Sudoku, solving crossword puzzles or special programs on the computer, the possibilities to train your brain seem unlimited. Dr. Ursula Marschall, head physician at Barmer, explains whether these measures can really help.

Dr. Marshal, what is brain jogging supposed to do?

The number of intact brain cells decreases with age. However, the brain can partially compensate for this loss as it has the ability to create new connections between the remaining cells. This is the hope on which brain jogging is based: using special exercises to create new connections between cells in order to stay mentally fit.

What does science know about the benefits of such exercises?

There are several studies that have looked at the effects of brain jogging. Whether brain jogging can also prevent dementia is highly controversial. What is certain, however, is that there are positive effects. If you want to train with exercises, you should pay attention to a certain variety, otherwise, depending on the selected exercise, only one single skill is trained. For example, those who often train to solve Sudokus will actually get better and faster, but other brain functions are not promoted.

What is your advice to people who want to exercise their mental health?

If you want to stay mentally fit, you can definitely train your brain with exercises. But there are also other ways to stay mentally fit, for example by integrating your "training" into everyday life. In principle, it makes sense to deviate from daily routines. On the way to the supermarket, for example, you can choose a different route and shop without a shopping list. Read a different daily newspaper. Calculate with your head instead of using the calculator, learn a foreign language and ideally use it. Making music or dancing.

Overall, I advise staying physically and mentally active, trying new things and also maintaining social contacts, because these are particularly stimulating for our brain. Of course, none of this is a guarantee of lifelong mental fitness, but it is a good prerequisite for it.

What role does physical activity play in mental fitness?

That has not yet been clearly clarified. Studies provide evidence that, for example, regular treadmill exercise helps improve cerebral blood flow and visual memory. However, this only applies to participants under the age of 70; older people no longer seem to benefit from it.