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Video games may be a fun and relaxing way to spend your glorious free time, but recent research says they might also be good for you. The Games for Health journal recently published research that found gaming helps aging adults lead more fulfilling lives. Although the study was aimed at the elderly, a lot of the benefits, like mental stimulation, are good for everyone.

If you’ve ever gotten a little frustrated over a puzzle game that you just couldn’t solve, that’s a good thing! It means the game is giving you a good dose of mental stimulation. Much like your body, your brain needs regular exercise to stay in shape, and a challenging game is a fairly inexpensive way to get that. Of course, it’s also a good idea to switch to a less challenging game if you find yourself getting too frustrated.

You could also supplement your mental diet with a jigsaw puzzle or a game of chess, but those options tend to require a little more setup time than an online game. Plus, mobile gaming is becoming more popular, which means a challenging puzzle or mystery game is only as far away as your phone.

Another cool trend with casual gaming is it’s becoming more social. Anything that encourages more social interaction in a world where time is in short supply and friendships get spread over great distances is a pretty good thing. Mobile games let you keep in touch and compete with friends nearly anywhere. Plus, who doesn’t like boasting about a really high score?

Online forums and social networks like Facebook give you a chance to connect with other gamers, but they are also great for getting tips on your favorite game or discussing which game you think is the best. Who knows, those discussions could even lead to discovering a new game.

So if you find yourself wandering the house looking for something to keep you busy, leave the reruns and talk shows for another day. Instead, try some fun and challenging puzzle games. If you find one you like, make sure to tell your friends. There’s nothing like a little friendly competition!

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