New Canadian Study Proves Video Games To Be Good For Physical And Mental Health

Earlier this week, a group of Canadian scientists released a study that basically proves what gamers have known for more than 20 years; video games are good for people’s physical and mental health.

According to the scientists, exergames (or games that require the players motion aka. motion-controlled gaming) can be good for the body. The scientists reported that the combination of concentration and physical movement (required from many motion-enabled games) slows down the cognitive decline of the brain. Cognitive functions decline as people age, so the additional concentration and focus required to be successful at these games help stave off degeneration. The study also showed that people who played these exergames proved to be physically healthier than those who do not. In addition to that, the study showed that these games increased one’s decision-making abilities (also known as executive function).

Hit the jump to read more.

Author’s Note: Regarding decision making functions; Could this be the reason why many twitch gamers (raised on First Person Shooters) are faster on their feet when making on-the-fly decisions? Is this a precursor to the use of Virtual Reality training for real-life situations? The US Army itself is showing more and more interest in adding VR simulation “games” to their training regimen. 

The study had 100 volunteers in which 50 were sitting on a regual stationary bike and the other 50 sitting on bikes with attached to displays that simulated their progress in a virtual world, their virtual avatars biking as much as they did. The ones attached to the displays were able to compete with other people, simulate biking in different terrains (that affected the players pedaling speed), and challenge themselves with harder difficulty settings. These displays required a high amount of eye and foot coordination, physical exertion, as well as a lot of concentration.

At the end of study three months later, the volunteers were tested and people who were on the bike with gaming displays  attached scored higher on most cognitive tests and had higher amount of blood plasma which is better for the brain.

That’s why over the last few years, many within the healthcare industry have turned their attention to the video game industry for it’s potential for creating games that can promote a healthier lifestyle through interactive motion entertainment (motion-controlled gaming). Not only that, many industries have been using games as a way to help improve trade skills through virtual reality training.

No it’s not the VR training that you’re probably thinking of. It doesn’t have you wearing goofy headsets that cover your entire head; it’s mostly video games that help increase coordination, logic, decision-making skills, and confidence. There’s even national programs like the California-based Health Games Research that research and develop games and programs that motivate players into changing their lives for the better.

Video games are not only fun, but they can also be a great addition to a healthy lifestyle. Games like puzzle and problem games require mental stimulation and problem-solving skills that cannot be done with other entertainment media. Games like Dance Central, Just Dance, UFC Personal Trainer, ZUMBA, and other motion-games require physical exertion that is almost always better for one’s health. Finally, online games provide players with disabilities, communication issues, and anxieties a place where they can communicate with others with realtively less amount of fear from judgement and from being ostracized.

But as gamers, we’ve already known this for many years right?



About janhutchings

Canadian Game Industry Blogger / Contributor for @Sonyrumors & @ShogunGamer / Communications and PR Professional. Voice of Canadian and Indie Gaming.

Posted on January 22, 2012, in Gaming News and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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