Yes, it’s true, playing bridge is good for you. Honestly
A study by Berkeley University showed that there are significant health benefits from learning to play bridge.
In 2000, Professor Marian Diamond decided to run a trial to see if playing bridge had any positive benefits on the immune system. Bridge requires concentration and while you are playing your brain is kept active and stimulated. It seems that this boosts your immune system. My immune system needs all the help it can get – so I’m hoping that learning bridge will help stave of the annual attacks of viruses that start each autumn.
For his experiment, Professor Diamond was helped by a group of twelve ladies in their 70s and 80s. He took blood samples before they started playing and then asked them to play bridge for an hour and a half.
An hour and a half later their blood was tested again. A staggering two thirds of these ladies had increased levels of T cells in their bodies – the cells used to fight infection.
Many people find that as they get older their brain seems to slow down. Like muscles, your brain needs to be used to keep it functioning well. People are living longer and many people are concerned about helping their brains to stay active and alert so they can enjoy this longer life to the full.
Playing bridge regularly stimulates your brain and helps keep your memory active and your brain alert. It requires you to use maths, strategy and concentration. There is an old saying “use it or lose it” – playing bridge helps you to “use it”. While you are playing a game of bridge you brain is kept fully active, working out your hand, working out your best approach to bidding, following your partner’s bidding and working out how their hand fits with yours. Finally, when you are actually playing the hand, working out the best strategy for maximising the number of tricks won by you and your partner.
Many beginning bridge players concentrate on learning the bidding and forget that learning strategies for play can make a big difference to your overall score. This part of the game is one of the biggest mental challenges, requiring you to concentrate and stay focused long after the actual bidding has finished.
Are there any other health benefits to playing bridge? Of course there are. You will be meeting people and enjoying an active social life. Instead of sitting at home feeling miserable and lonely and with no-one to talk to, you will be engaging in conversations and getting out and about – which will help keep you physically active too.
If you can’t get out, or you want to practice your bridge bidding and play at home, you can gain many of the health benefits of playing bridge using the internet. No Fear Bridge is the perfect place to practice and learn with hundreds of interactive hands to play, quizzes, tutorials, flash cards and much, much more.
Just recently (Sept 2013) the ladies from a bridge club in Mysore were upset to be told that a “government order” has banned people from playing cards in clubs. The order appears to have been aimed at stopping gambling. Bridge is not a gambling game – it is played for pleasure, for the challenge, for fun. One member quoted the health benefits and says “We elderly ladies play Bridge which is a brain game and sometimes play Rummy for some relaxation and a change. Most of us are retired pensioners. Where do we have money to gamble?” You can read the whole story here.