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12 Ways Playing Video Games Makes Your Life Healthier

12 Ways Playing Video Games Makes Your Life Healthier

It is not all bad news. Video games are not always violent, mindless, and addictive. Actually, there is lots of good news about the health benefits of playing video games, provided you do a few other things in between! There is a now a lot of research available which shows there are many benefits.

1. They teach you about social relationships

Some video games actually depend on social interaction. One of the best things about the MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) is the way they encourage friendship and relationships worldwide. The more players engage in social interaction, the more enjoyable they become. These MMORPGs are extremely social games.

MMORPG

    2. They can help relieve physical pain

    Distraction is a great pain management technique. The University of Washington took this a step further and developed a virtual reality game to help patients suffering from agonizing pain. This game is called ‘Snow World’. In this video game, the patients throw tons of snowballs at snowmen and penguins. This serves to overwhelm the senses and divert the patient’s attention away from all those excruciating pain signals. The military found that this worked better than morphine in treating soldiers with mind-numbing pain. It also worked very well with those suffering from severe burns.

    3. They may help with vision problems

    Imagine telling a person with a cataract to play more video games! This is just what Daphne Maurer, a developmental psychologist, actually set out to prove in one experiment. She chose Medal of Honor and other first person shooter games to try this out. Her results showed that after 40 hours training, the patients were showing improvement in spatial contrast sensitivity, sharpness in vision, and also motion sensitivity. Obviously, more experiments will need to be done to establish whether this can be helpful across a range of eyesight defects.

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    MedalofHonor

      4. They may help kids with chronic illnesses

      Children suffering from autism and depression were able to gain some benefit from playing video games. This was the result of a study carried out at the University of Utah. Researchers are confident that video games can also be used for therapeutic purposes and not just for entertainment. Combining these two functions could be a great way to help patients with mental disorders, weight issues, cancer and other serious diseases.

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        5. They help motivation

        By their very nature, video games are always up for rewarding points and prizes for effort and success. There is no doubt that these games can help increase motivation because they balance the difficulty of the challenge with success and rewards. Nothing better than that for increasing motivation, although real life tends to be slower and more tricky!

        6. They can help with controlling emotions

        A similar game to Space Invaders (RAGE Control – Regulate and Gain Emotional Control) was used by the Children’s Hospital in Boston to help kids control their anger. The patients were all in the unit which helps children who have anger issues. The game lets them play but when they become too emotional and angry, their ability to shoot is impaired and they start to lose points.

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          7. They may help you to be more socially aware

          Being more socially aware makes you want to help others. Can video games really help here? Results from studies suggest that this is actually the case. One study done in Japan and the USA revealed that the non-violent games were more likely to instil feelings of helpful behavior towards the less fortunate members of society. It is a controversial issue as other studies show that children after video gaming become overly aggressive towards vulnerable citizens.

          8. They can help you be a better parent

          Now, what counts as quality time with your kids? Playing with your kids, of course. That can range from sports, watching movies or going out together. But it also includes playing video games with them. Here are some ideas to make the most of this quality time together.

          Of course, you have your smartphone switched off, right? This is so important because your child will quickly realize whether this is really quality time and if you are actually playing the game with them, rather than being a bored observer.

          Talking about the game as you play with them is really useful, too. Ask them to explain their strategy and why the enemy is so difficult to beat. It is a great way of getting kids to plan, try out something, and re-evaluate in the case of defeat.

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            9. They can help kids be creative

            My favorite one here is Toontastic. Kids can simply animate their own cartoon characters by learning how to draw them, tell their stories and choose the right music to go with them. They can also share their stories with other children round the world so it is a great way of learning about other cultures. It also is one of the best games for encouraging children to be creative.

            10. Video games help children develop

            One study by Dr. Andrew Przybylski, in the Pediatrics journal, reports the results of a project which followed 5,000 youngsters between 10 and 15 years. The study showed that a maximum of one hour a day on video games helped children to be well-adjusted and happy with their lives. They were less hyperactive and more disposed to be socially interactive. Those children who were spending more than three hours on video gaming were less happy and dissatisfied with their lives.

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              11. Video games may help elderly citizens with memory

              Fancy a game of NeuroRacer? All you have to do is swerve around cars while identifying road signs. Sounds pretty mindless. But guess what? A group of elderly adults between the ages of 60 to 85 were asked to play this game for about 3 hours a week. After six months, the older ones were doing better than before on memory tests, multitasking and attention span.

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              12. They may help surgeons perform better operations

              Ask your surgeon before you fall asleep if s/he has played any Wii Tennis or the High Altitude Battle game recently! No, it is not one of those ridiculous questions before you drift off under the effects of the anaesthetic. If the surgeon nods yes, there is a good chance that her eye-hand coordination is in top form and you are in safe hands (no pun intended!).

              As we have seen, video games can be really helpful when we choose the right ones and if we promise not to get addicted. Must dash as I have to play another game on Wii Tennis!

              Featured photo credit: The Art of Video Games/ Ryan Quick via flickr.com

              More by this author

              Robert Locke

              Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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              Last Updated on May 22, 2019

              10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

              10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

              There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

              One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

              In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

              Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

              1. Cat Camel Stretch

              Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

              Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

              Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

              Here’s a video to guide you through:

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              2. Go for a Walk or a Run

              This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

              Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

              The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

              Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

              Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

              3. Jumping Jacks

              Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

              Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

              4. Abductor Side Lifts

              Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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              Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

              5. Balancing Table Pose

              This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

              Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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                6. Leg Squats

                Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

                Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

                The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

                7. Push Ups

                You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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                An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

                Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

                This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

                8. Bicycle Crunches

                There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

                Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

                9. Lunges

                Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

                Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

                This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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                10. Bicep Curls

                You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

                Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

                Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

                Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

                Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

                These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

                You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

                Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

                More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                Reference

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