Most of us have grown up being told that gaming (online or offline) is a waste of time, or worse, bad for you. But could it actually be doing us some good? Recent research suggests that it absolutely could be! Whether you like a good old fashioned board game or dabble in the technical kind, here are six health benefits of gaming…
1:- Gaming is great for older people
The Alzheimer’s Disease Centre has suggested that there’s an association between game-playing and cognitive function. Their research found that people who reported, “playing games such as cards, checkers, crosswords or other puzzles often had greater brain volume in several regions involved in Alzheimer’s disease (such as the hippocampus) and higher scores on cognitive tests”. Therefore, it stands to reason that gaming could be good for you.
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2:- Games can increase your brain’s flexibility
It’s unclear whether or not game playing can increase human intelligence, but researchers have found that playing strategic games can increase a player’s brain flexibility (a fast level of speed and accuracy in particular tasks) if played regularly enough.
3:- Gaming requires strong cognitive capability
It might look like leisurely play, but gaming often requires focus and skill. For example, gamers who embark on video games such as ‘Prince of Persia’ are tasked with controlling a character who needs to exit a very large, ornate room. To succeed, gamers have to examine the layout of the room and carve a path which requires the character to jump, swing, crawl, heave and climb from point to point. Of course, this means that successful gamers are excellent at advanced planning and decision making, and researchers confirm that gamers have “many items to keep track of simultaneously and a need to attend to peripheral vision constantly”.
4:- Gaming can encourage social interaction
It’s estimated that there’s as many as 1.2 billion people playing video games across the world. Video games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft are often played in groups with teams wearing headsets to communicate, which is thought to reduce loneliness, isolation and depression. Online and offline group gaming draws on qualities like communication and teamwork, which means that gaming can enhance social interaction rather than inhibit it.
5:- Video games can get you moving
Gaming doesn’t have to be a sedentary exercise. For example, work out games like those played on Wii Fit, Kinect and Just Dance get gamers moving, boost stamina and raise heart rates. This is great news for the health of our bodies, but is also good for our brains: regular exercise is thought to promote healthy blood flow to the grey matter between our ears.
Gaming can be a strong educational medium
‘Gamification’ can be an effective way to teach children (and adults) by turning traditionally mundane subjects into something engaging, motivating and competitive. So long as the subject is compatible with a gaming format (and many are), gaming can form part of strong learning blend.