Before you start any new exercise routine, talk to your doctor to make sure it’s safe.

Checkers or chess are games of skill, discipline and mental mastery. When you play, your mind analyzes where to move each piece. You find tactics to be patient, make bold moves and stay motivated.

There are physical sports that also challenge your mind. Regular exercise promotes emotional well-being and can improve your mental health. Physical activity benefits your emotional state. Research suggests it also improves memory and focus.1

Go ahead. Get out there.

Exercising your mind and body with the following physical activities. Being active may be easier than you think. And make sure to have some fun!

A man smiling while swinging a pickle ball paddle


It’s one of America’s fastest-growing sports,2 especially with the young at heart. Pickleball can be played inside or out, as doubles or singles. It requires fast movements, hand-eye coordination and quick thinking. Your mind gets a workout by learning, thinking and problem-solving. You keep track of the rules, the score, your position on the court and more. Not on the picklewagon yet? Tennis, ping pong and badminton give you similar benefits.

Fun fact: Pickleball has been an official sport in the National Senior Games since 2012.3

A man playing ball hockey, ready to score a goal

Ball hockey

With just a hockey stick and a ball, playing ball hockey is an easy, affordable sport. It’s ice hockey without the ice or a version of field hockey, played anywhere. It is a game of constant movement. It’s a full-body workout that requires teamwork along with hand-eye coordination and balance. Physical activity can sharpen mental function like memory. It may also improve abilities like reasoning and reaction time.1

Fun fact: Ball hockey is also known as street hockey, floor hockey or DEK hockey,4 depending on where you live.

A group of 3 friends playing bocce together


Bocce is a game with a long history. Sometimes called skittles, it’s a distant cousin to the French pétanque and the English lawn bowling. You can play at any age and any level of physical fitness. Courts can be set up on almost any flat surface and in any location. All it takes is two teams of one or more players.

It looks simple. But it’s not as easy as it looks. The object is to get your balls close to the target, a smaller ball called a pallino.5 Thinking about the distance and speed engages your brain. Physical exercise like playing bocce can also help improve coordination and reduce stress.1

Fun fact: Bocce is the third most played sport in the world, after soccer and golf.6

Get started

If you’re interested in kicking your physical activity up a notch, you should know how to measure your heart rate.

Published June 28, 2023


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