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When it comes to maintaining optimal brain health, engaging in mental activities that challenge and stimulate the mind is crucial. One such activity that has gained popularity across the world in recent years is the game of Mahjong. An ancient game dating back in China, Mahjong is a tile-based game that requires strategic thinking, memory recall, and concentration.
Beyond its entertainment value, research suggests that playing Mahjong can have positive effects on brain health and cognitive function. So, if you’re looking to give your brain a workout, why not give Mahjong a try?
1. Enhances Cognitive Skills
A study published by the Department of Epidemiology of Xiangya School of Public Health examined the effects of Mahjong on cognitive function in older adults. The researchers found that regular Mahjong players demonstrated better performance on cognitive tests, such as attention, memory, and problem-solving, compared to non-players. The game’s complex rules, permutations and possibilities require players to think critically and make calculated decisions, leading to improved cognitive performance and lower rates of dementia in the elderly.
2. Boosts Memory and Recall
Memory is an essential aspect of brain health, and Mahjong can help enhance memory and recall abilities. A study conducted by the University of Georgia examined the effects of Mahjong on memory performance in older adults. The findings revealed that regular Mahjong players exhibited better memory skills and were more adept at recalling information compared to non-players. A key requirement of the game lies in remembering the positions of various tiles and tracking them throughout the game, which can contribute to improved memory function.
3. Promotes Social Engagement
Social interaction plays a vital role in overall brain health and cognitive function. Mahjong is often played in groups of four, fostering social engagement and communication. Regular participation in social activities has been linked to a reduced risk of cognitive decline and improved mental well-being. Mahjong provides an opportunity to connect with others, engage in friendly competition, and maintain social connections, all of which contribute to brain health.
4. Reduces Stress and Enhances Mental Well-being
Chronic stress can have detrimental effects on brain health and cognitive function. In this regard, Mahjong as a form of relaxation can help reduce stress levels and promote mental well-being. The focused and meditative nature of the game can provide a break from daily stressors and contribute to a sense of calmness.
Getting Started With Mahjong
By now, if you are convinced by the benefits of Mahjong and would like to get started, you can start by looking up the basic rules of Mahjong. Mahjong played in different parts of the world will have different rules, and are even played with different numbers of tiles!
A good resource for learning Mahjong is the Wikipedia page for Mahjong, where you can get a good introduction to the different styles of Mahjong. The many styles of play include Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, American, Filipino, Korean, Japan and more. You can imagine the popularity of Mahjong just from the different styles mentioned above!
You will then need to purchase a set of Mahjong tiles, a table, dice and chips. For added convenience, consider investing in a high quality automatic mahjong table setup which is often sold as a complete set, inclusive of all the accessories that you will require to play Mahjong. The main benefit of which is that the table will then do the heavy work of racking your game each round. Some high quality brands to look out for includes Tryho, Treyo and Solor.
Finally, you will need a total of 4 players to start a game. Grab 3 other friends to come together, play a couple of rounds open hand, before moving on to more advanced rules and strategies that considers folds and different winning hands. Before long, you will not just be reaping the rewards of a brain booster, but actually enjoying the great game of Mahjong. Happy Mahjong-ing!