One of the best ways to ensure that we stay mentally sound well into old age is by keeping our minds active. Whether that’s by fully engaging with our work, throwing ourselves into new hobbies, or simply learning new things, an active brain is a healthy one.

Something that we’re perhaps all a little guilty of is spending too much unproductive time in front of a screen; but what if you could procrastinate in a way that would be beneficial for your brain? These games prove that having fun can be a great way to keep your grey matter moving.

Learn How to Play Poker

Poker is famous for being the strategic thinker’s game of choice, so signing up to an online provider is a good way to keep your mind busy.

Some sites keep the competition ramped up by featuring players on their game leader boards. For new players, this challenge can seem a little daunting, but they refresh their leader boards weekly so that even new sign-ups get a chance to compete. If you’re already familiar with the rules then you might get the chance to see your name up there on the leader board, but even if you don’t manage it at first, you’ll still be getting the benefits of a bit of mental exercise.

Poker playing encourages us to think on our feet, which can help to make us remain calmer in stressful situations. As well as this, our brains need to be sharp to look for patterns and to try to anticipate the other players’ next move. Using our brains in this multi-faceted way can help us to think more clearly, both in the game and in the rest of our lives.

Learn a New Language

In our increasingly global world, a second language is becoming more and more important. If you’re looking for a change of career, then a second language is one of the most useful assets you can have on your CV, but even if you’re happy in your career or already retired it’s a brilliant way to keep your mind active.

Whilst it’s certainly effective learning from a book or a series of DVDs, online games are actually getting the upper hand when it comes to effective learning. Interactivity is one of the ways that the things we learn sink into our brains the best. So, being able to play mini-games and interact with the environment as naturally as possible, has proven to be the best way of learning a new language.

Sites and apps like Duolingo and Babbel provide totally free language tuition and are as fun to use as they are effective.

Learn How to Play Chess

Although chess is dwindling in popularity, the competition at the upper echelons is as fierce as ever. Perhaps it’s because Millennials have masses of computer games to play, and so the humble board games have lost their appeal. Whatever the reason, it’s high time that chess made a comeback. It’s full of great strategic thinking and depending on how you choose to play it can be surprisingly fast-paced.

If the endless pondering over moves is what has put you off learning, then a great way to get past that is with online chess puzzles.

The most popular site for learning chess allows you to choose whether you’d like to play standard games against a computer, against a random opponent, or against somebody you know. The chatbox means that even if you live far apart you can keep in touch with somebody in a more interactive way than just texting or emailing.

Of course, if you’d like to bolster up your skills first then there are timed chess puzzles available on, which typically require you to reach checkmate in the quickest time possible. They encourage you to be logical, strategic and fast-developing critical ways of thinking that are brilliant for your brain.