Before commenting on the great benefits provided by chess, we will tell you that without a doubt chess is the game "King of Kings" since it not only entertains us, but it is also the noblest game that allows us to enjoy the best chess moves with the company of an opponent, this being a sport for gentlemen... and ladies.
Chess is an ideal mental gymnastics to prevent the deterioration of our brain so it is highly recommended to practice it in elderly people. In addition to the physical benefits it provides, it also provides various psychological benefits that are very important for health. In fact, chess is considered a sport, there is the figure of the chess trainer or chess coach and in a high level competition a great amount of calories are consumed. As an example, it is estimated that in the tournament for the 1984 World Championship, held in Moscow between the then world champion, Anatoli Karpov and Gari Kasparov, the aspirant consumed about 5000 calories. Impressive, isn't it?
In this report we tell you why you need to consider playing chess, and the great benefits this great game provides to older people.
Why should I start playing chess?
All over the world, our population is ageing. Advances in technology and medicine have extended average global life expectancy to more than 80 years, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Unfortunately, "this increase in life expectancy has not necessarily been accompanied by an increase in quality of life.
Many older people struggle with depression, isolation and mental decline.
A study showing the great benefits of chess for older people
In a presentation in 2015 at the London Chess Conference, Karel van Delft offers an interesting cure: chess.
Using his experience as a psychologist and journalist, van Delft gathered findings from neuropsychologists, doctors and neurobiologists to see if chess practice could help counteract some of the side effects of ageing.
In compiling his work, van Delft found strong evidence that chess has clear and measurable benefits for older people.
The 3 major benefits of chess in the elderly
The benefits that come out of the study carried out by Van Delft, are classified in three categories: social, physical and mental.
- Socialization: Chess provides older people with a trained hobby and opportunities for socialization. Increased socialization helps to improve self-image, decrease the risk of depression and strengthen overall emotional health.
- Physical Health: As a by-product of improved socialization, older chess players enjoy better physical health. Chess stimulates the brain by strengthening mental capacity and information retention. Additional research has linked chess to lower rates of dementia in active players. Of all the current chess grandmasters, none show signs of dementia.
- Mental Health: The third and greatest benefit of chess, however, comes in the form of improved mental health. Incorporating chess into your daily routine helps improve the plasticity of your brain. Just like a muscle, the brain is weakened if it is not exercised regularly. Playing chess actively involves the brain and has been shown to strengthen logical reasoning and problem solving among older people. These mental benefits also improve social and physical health. This results in a better quality of life for older chess players.
Our conclusions on the practice and benefits of chess in the elderly
Chess brings many benefits to the elderly who play it. This ancient game allows us to preserve our lucidity, good memory and ability to learn, and in turn, avoids mental inactivity, the enemy of intelligence.
It is also very important to bear in mind that chess promotes friendship, and that it is a game of humour, companionship and a family atmosphere, because chess is precisely that, a game of knights.