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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at BU chapter.

I’ve always loved puzzles—jigsaw puzzles, word puzzles, sudoku puzzles—you name it. I like the challenge, and I enjoy feeling like I’m doing something healthy for my brain, unlike watching Netflix all day (even though I sometimes do that too). It’s also a calming activity for me. I can make it a social activity by working with other people, or I can do it by myself. I can choose a longer-term project with a jigsaw puzzle or a short activity with a Sudoku puzzle. Puzzles aren’t for everyone, but if you like them, they have many health benefits.

Original Illustration by Gina Escandon for Her Campus Media
People do puzzles for the same reason they like adult coloring books or journaling. It takes a level of concentration that distracts you from daily stress, and it calms anxiety. When you’re completely focused on an activity you enjoy, it’s called “flow” or being “in the zone,” which studies have found increases happiness and creativity. Many people have been doing puzzles during the COVID-19 pandemic. It can be a great way to keep you occupied and improve your mental health.

Working on puzzles also burns calories because the brain uses a lot of energy. A study found that chess grandmasters could burn up to 6,000 calories during a tournament. The more challenging a task is, the more calories you’ll burn. It’s a nice perk, but you should probably keep exercising too.

article cover \"working out without the actual work\" with a cartoon bicep
Rachel Durniok
Studies have also shown that doing puzzles may delay dementia symptoms in older adults. One study found that doing crossword puzzles “delayed onset of accelerated memory decline by 2.54 years.” Another study found that the more often adults do puzzles, both word and numerical, the better their brains function in tasks of reasoning, attention, and memory. While college students are not at risk for dementia, it can’t hurt to improve your brain health. 

People always say, “Use it or lose it” about exercising your body, and the same goes for your brain. Whether you do puzzles or some other activity, working your brain is a great way to improve mental health. 


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Emily is a communication student at Boston University. She discovered her go-to accessory, a camera, at age two. In her free time, she explores the city, binge-watches Netflix, searches for cute bookstores, and wanders through any parks and gardens she can find. 
Writers of the Boston University chapter of Her Campus.