Health Benefits of Gaming

by Marcus Clarke

Apparently it was the Buddha who first said ‘health is the greatest gift’. He was certainly right. However, he probably never imagined that one of the ways we can receive this ‘greatest gift’ is video games, as much research is now showing that gaming can be extremely good for your health, in a bewildering number of ways.

For example, gaming can increase the strength and size of the brain areas associated with a number of key skills, such as motor skills and spatial awareness. So gaming can actually increase the size of your brain! As well as this, gaming can reduce sensations of pain. Studies on soldiers who had been injured in battle, in which half were asked to play on a virtual reality game and half acted as a control group, found that those who played video games were less likely to need pain meds. Amazing! There’s more! Gaming can slow down cognitive decline in the elderly and those that are suffering from degenerative neurological disorders. As such, gaming in this sense has many public health applications.

Have you recently suffered from some sort of trauma? Fear not. Gaming may be the answer, and research has shown that gaming can minimize the effects of trauma. One study showed, for example, that those who had recently undergone surgery and played video games were likely to recover more quickly. Likewise, those who had undergone traumatic events were likely to have fewer flashbacks and after effects if they played video games.

So, gaming is not just about fun, and vegging out on a weekend after a hard week at work. It can actually have really positive effects, particularly on your cognitive health. Likewise, modern games are increasingly good for your cardio health, as games become more active, and your body becomes the controller.

To find out more about how gaming can be good for your, see the infographic below from Computer Planet.

An all too common view of gamers is that they are anti-social hermits who shut themselves in their bedrooms day and night. The only social interaction they ever have is via playing game-marathons with anonymous strangers on the internet.

However, there is so much evidence coming out today that shows that playing games may be useful for developing social, logical and literary skills. Let’s take a look at some of the main health benefits of gaming.

  1. Improved hand to eye coordination. Believe it or not, your hand to eye coordination will be given an incredible boost when you regularly play games. This is due to your eyes, hands and brain consistently working in unison to make quick decisions accurately.
  2. Playing 3D video games may increase your memory capacity. A study in The Journal of Neuroscience back in 2015 showed that 69 individuals were placed into three groups and were tasked with either playing Angry Birds, Super Mario 3D World or nothing at all for a few weeks at a time. The Mario-gamers performed better in subsequent memory-related tasks, whereas the other participants had no change at all. It was concluded that gamers who enjoy more complex 3D titles performed better overall.
  3. Gaming could help relieve pain. The next time you take a day off work sick, don’t feel guilty about sitting around playing games all day! According to a literature review in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, of a total of 38 studies looked at, video games improved the health of a total of 195 people. There has also been scientific research that found that while playing games, in particular, VR games, people suffered less anxiety and pain caused by medical procedures or chronic illness.
  4. Playing Tetris has been proven to limit trauma. Yes, you read that correctly! A study published in Molecular Psychiatry illustrated that of traffic accident patients arriving at an ER in Oxford, England, ones who were randomly selected to play 20 minutes of Tetris ended up having 62 percent less traumatic traffic accident flashbacks than those who read or completed crosswords.
  5. Gaming may increase your brain matter. A study from the Germany-based Max Planck Institute in 2014 and that was published in Molecular Psychology discovered that playing Super Mario 64 actually increased the size of the brain regions responsible for fine motor skills, spatial orientation, strategic planning and memory formation in volunteers. The 24 individuals only played the video game for 30 minutes per day.

So, there you have it. The next time someone calls you out for playing too many video games, you’ll have the scientific evidence to prove that they’re good for you!




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