You read that right: Playing board games can help lower your blood pressure. It probably sounds like an old wives’ tale (it’s not) or some Internet conspiratorial mumbo-jumbo. But even if you’re not a research scientist (and we certainly are not), the correlation between playing games and lower blood pressure isn’t that extreme a concept.
Think about it – what causes, or contributes to, high blood pressure? A plethora of factors, to be sure. Everything from increased sodium intake to stress to genetics. Playing games might well actually help lower stress, and therefore contribute to lowering blood pressure.
Now, this isn’t medical advice and we’d certainly not posit that playing a game once can cure somebody’s chronic blood pressure issues. That would just be silly.
But if you are stressed out, for any length of time, doing things to reduce that stress will help you relax. When you play games, you play with friends or family members (or if you’re lucky enough to live in a place where strangers play chess in the park, then good on you!). So you’re around people you love and enjoy being around.
In that scenario, you’re also laughing. Game play is a great way to take one’s mind off the minutiae of day to day adulthood. You’re not thinking about work, or your car payment, or when to get the car to the mechanic for a well-overdue oil change. Playing games allows you that momentary escape you don’t find in your daily routine.
Playing board games also stimulates cognitive function. You are forced to think about things that aren’t normally in your scope of vision, and think differently about things you’re familiar with. You think differently about the world, and that affords you an adrenaline rush.
Combine that with competition among friends and family, and you have a recipe for a fun night! And the best part? The stakes are low. Even if competition runs high (and it strangely can, given that you’re sitting around a table of plastic and cardboard), once the game comes to an end, there are no repercussions.
You don’t actually lose money (if you’re playing the kind of games we’re thinking of) and you won’t lose your ore and iron stockpiles because somebody else built a road through the mountains faster than you could. When the game is over, you’re still there with people who bring you joy.
Maybe you don’t believe this, and maybe none of this matters from a health perspective. But it’s a pretty fortuitous coincidence, and something to consider next time you’re bored and wondering what do on a Friday night, after a long, stressful week.