Time wasters. Children’s toys. Something for couch potatoes.
Most of the attention around playing video games has been negative. Critics often consider them addictive and a waste of time.
However, playing video games does have some awesome health benefits. It may not be evident at first, but you can definitely benefit from playing games.
Want to know what awesome health benefits await you?
Keep reading to find out how to level up your health in a fun way by playing video games.
- They Can Improve Your Brain Function
Playing games may improve your brain function by increasing your gray matter. The gray matter is the part of your brain that processes information. It is involved with muscle control, memory, self-control, decisions making, and emotions.
That means playing games have similar positive effects on your gray matter that meditation and sleep have on it.
- They Can Be a Healthy Distraction From Pain
Video games can be a healthy distraction from pain. In one study, playing a game as an active distraction was a better pain distraction than watching television and better than having no distraction. Interactive distraction appears to be a better option for pain distraction than a passive distraction.
It’s possible that in the future, video games will be used as a pain distraction more and more. They are much safer than the alternative of self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, which is what many people turn to when dealing with pain.
- They Can Reduce Stress
For many, video games are the go-to medium when it comes to wanting to relax.
While some stress can be good, prolonged stress weakens the immune system. Over time, stress can lead to health problems such as depression, heart disease, and impaired memory.
However, by controlling stress, these health issues can be reduced. A few minutes of gaming a day can be great for unwinding after a difficult day.
The best video games are games that you can walk away from feeling better about yourself.
- They Can Improve Manual Dexterity
Video games can improve manual dexterity. A study of surgeons noted that those who played video games were faster at advanced surgical procedures. They also produced fewer errors. Regular gaming sessions could increase your dexterity.
- They Can Keep You Physically Active
There are lots of different types of video games. Not all of them involve sitting on the couch.
In recent years more and more games have come with peripherals to help players stay active. Games like Ring Fit Adventure encourage exercise through gameplay, having the player run in place or stretch to progress the game.
The Just Dance series is another great example of games that keep players active. The rhythm game series features levels with licensed music and choreographed dance moves. Players must mimic the dances performed on screen.
Then there are sports games. They can encourage and inspire players to get outside and try playing the sport in real life.
- They Build Social Connections
The rise in multiplayer games, both local and online multiplayer, can lead to better and even new social connections. Not only can we form new friendships, but we can rekindle and strengthen existing friendships.
Games like Don’t Starve Together encourage cooperation and teamwork, and services like aleforge.net offer server hosting to help connect players from all over the world.
There’s real science behind the social connection. Strong social connection leads to a better immune system, lower levels of depression and anxiety, and may even help you live longer.
- They Can Strengthen Your Relationship With Your Significant Other
When you play games with your partner, you create new memories as you go on adventures together. You are encouraged to work together and support each other as you overcome difficult bosses or obstacles. You can help each other solve complicated problems.
Most importantly, you can have fun together. Having fun together is a great way to build healthy relationships.
Healthy relationships equate to forming healthier behaviors, healing better, having a greater sense of purpose, and living a longer life.
Gaming together with your partner is a great way to build your communication and strengthen your relationship.
- They Can Teach Us About Mental Health
Video games can also serve as educational tools for mental health. When a character in a game goes through issues such as anxiety or depression, we can see ourselves in them.
Even a game that may appear light-hearted, such as the Kingdom Hearts series, can have characters that struggle with depression.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice features a protagonist dealing with psychosis. Senua experiences hallucinations throughout the game, but she remains the hero of her own story. She is actively working through her experiences and trying to make sense of them.
Recovery is not about curing hallucinations but finding ways to live with them. That’s something the developers and many players will learn playing Hellblade.
Celeste features Madeline, a protagonist who struggles with anxiety. As she climbs a mountain, her anxiety manifests itself in physical ways, serving as the game’s primary antagonist.
Having characters that the player can relate to can help us examine our mental health struggles, and more importantly, give us hope.
It’s Not All Fun When Playing Video Games
It’s not all fun when playing video games-sometimes it’s healthy too! Video games can have benefits that anyone can receive. You don’t have to be a pro gamer to experience the benefits of video games.
If you liked this article be sure to check out more articles in our Entertainment section.