Despite nobody wanting to admit it, we all are getting older. But this doesn’t mean your brain has to! Memory, puzzles and strategic board games can help to improve overall mental health and to keep the brain active. To ensure that our brains are in tip top shape and operating at full capacity it has been said that the mind needs to be challenged every day. Thankfully, this isn’t a hard task and doesn’t have to be like homework thanks to some fun favourites and new puzzles that can be enjoyed by many, anywhere.

We have found the best of the best, tried and tested, games and activities that are fun and interactive. Try them out and see what you think of working out without breaking a sweat this summer (unless you are losing)!


Chess has been around for centuries. The all strategy game can actually BOOST your IQ as well as help prevent Alzheimer’s, increases ability to problem solve, improves spatial skills and creativity!


Keep your mind sharp with this board game which gives your brain a solid workout. A recent study even showed that a simple game of mahjong can help reduce rates of depression among middle-aged and older adults. Mahjong can also be very social and you can invite your friends over for Mahjong and Margaritas!

Samba, Canasta, Bolivia

No it’s not a dance class. It’s a card game – three different variations that is. Samba is a three pack card game that can be played with up to 6 players with the objective being to score the most points for melds (the sets of cards that are displayed face up on the table).

Canasta is in the same rummy family of card games and believed to be a variant of 500 Rum. Commonly played by four players in pairs of two it uses two standard decks of cards. The aim of the game? To make sets (also known as melds) of seven cards and have no cards left in their hand. Kind of like Uno for grown ups.

Bolivia is a variation of Samba (above) and still is part of the rummy family of card games. Pretty much the same as above but adds in a grown up version of Old Maid so make sure you don’t get caught with any black threes in hand!


Not just for the kids, yo-yoing has many benefits including improving hand-eye coordination, development of fine motor skills, improving spatial awareness (hopefully before you hit the tv), and relieves mental stress.

This Yomega Brain yo-yo is so smart that when you throw it down it, you can pretty much have a little nap before it automatically returns to your hand. The secret? It has a centrifugal clutch system that opens to allow super long spins and then closes to force the return. This is easily one of the most popular yo-yo designs the world has ever seen and it is great for beginners!


Texas Hold’em Poker

Can playing poker really re-wire your brain for the better? Sure can! In fact, when humans perform any activity consistently new connections in the brain are created. If you spend a lot of time playing poker, you are likely to develop high levels of concentration and focus but also develop ways in which to deal with loss and control your emotions.

Ex Libris

A firm favourite and top seller since it was first introduced in 1991, Ex Libris is a game to challenge your literary acumen and test your writing skills. Each card gives you the title, author and plot summary of a novel or short story.

At the start of a round one player, taking a turn as the reader, picks a card and reads it out. The other players then have to write a plausible opening or closing sentence to the work in an attempt to bluff fellow players into believing their ‘script’ to be the genuine one. These are all handed in to the reader, who has meanwhile written down the genuine sentence (given on the back of the card). They are shuffled, and each is read out. The winning player is the one who has most votes cast for his or her entry (while further points are won if you manage to identify the genuine sentence).

One hundred authors representing widely different writing styles are featured in the game – from Charles Dickens to Harold Robbins, from Jane Austen to Barbara Cartland.


Voted one of the five best board games in history, backgammon can increase your cognitive skills and critical thinking. Studies have also shown that playing backgammon increases your ability to combat stress and potentially strengthen your immune system!

Cribbage (Crib)

A unique card counting game that many people owe their ability to do maths to. Commonly credited to its invention is English poet Sir John Suckling. It is one of the most popular card games of all time and the rules have remained almost the same from the very start. Apparently there are nearly two million players in the UK alone. It can help you with mental maths (so no need for your iPhone), observe and continue patterns and solve basic functions and probability concepts.

To buy any of the games listed above click on the images or visit and other great game retailers.