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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 November 11, 2019

              How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

              How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

              Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

              To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

              Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

              1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

              Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

              Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

              To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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              2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

              Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

              If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

              Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

              3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

              Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

              Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

              4. Feed Your Brain

              Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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              This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

              Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

              Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

              5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

              According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

              Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

              Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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              6. Write it Down

              If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

              It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

              You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

              7. Listen to Music

              Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

              8. Visual Concepts

              In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

              Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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              Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

              9. Teach Someone Else

              Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

              Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

              10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

              Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

              So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

              Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

              More About Boosting Memory

              Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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