Traditional sports are important to our culture. Every four years we celebrate the best athletes in the world at the Olympics. Then you have Boardgames which have over the years slowly become more and more part of the cultural zeitgeist from traditional games like chess, to more modern games like Warhammer. Boardgames have sparked competition in those who seek something less physically straining, but what is better for the mind, board games, or traditional sports?
For the most part, board games are designed to be intellectually stimulating. They are often meant to challenge users on their critical thinking and grand strategy. Take Risk as an example. You have to outthink your opponents, manage resources and armies and in some situations even make alliances and declare wars. These skills are ones that can be applied to everyday life. Making friends, planning out tasks, managing time, food, and money, its all good for building up the mind. Boardgames are almost always communal activities as well-meaning that you’ll be interacting with friends and family whilst you play which is very good for general mental wellbeing. Humans are sociable creatures and are almost always happier when doing things with others. The thing about a lot of board games is there aren’t any easy game answers you can pluck out of nowhere. Playing a game with other people means you have to learn how individuals play, what their plans are. This is really just another form of problem-solving which is integral to many different aspects of life from when you’re at home or when you’re in the workplace.
Sport is such a wide net to cast in general. Rugby is a sport and that’s a large team game that requires communication and planning but the 100m sprint is also a sport and that involves running fast in a straight line. So you could argue that saying all sport is better for the mind might be a bit of a generalization but that’s not exactly true. Exercise might be the key to a quieter mind. A study of roughly 1 million people in America found that people who regularly exercise have fewer bad mental health days than those who don’t exercise regularly. So although in the grand scheme of things Sports might not be as intellectually challenging as the average board game, just being involved in sports will likely improve your mental wellbeing. That’s not to say that’s the only reason sports is good for the mind, lots of sports are team sports and involve coordination and choosing the right formation or play at the right time in the match to outwit your opponents. This is all on top of the physical benefits of taking part in sports that will put you in a healthier place not only physically but mentally as well.
Overall, both have their benefits, and whilst boardgames do all in all help to display a wider range of skills, the physical benefits alongside the mental benefits of getting involved in sports would likely make that the better choice out of the two activities. As with most things, it’s on a case-by-case basis. If it’s snowing outside ay the only thing you could really do is go run a cold and icy run, then a game of monopoly might be more mentally stimulating but if it’s a nice day outside and you’re friends are all free, a game of five a side might get you in a better place mentally than a game of chess.