Posted: Sep 18 2014
by: Neal Haworth

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Can Playing Video Games Improve Your Health?

If you grew up playing video games as much as I did, you might remember your mom or dad telling you to stop playing video games or else or else you your brain would turn to mush. However, a recent study performed by the University of Utah contradicts this theory by shedding light on the potential health benefits of playing video games.

Researchers at the University of Utah performed a study on the possible health benefits associated with playing video games. They monitored the affects of playing video games on patients suffering from a variety of different of diseases and illnesses, some of which included diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. What they found was that playing video games promotes a more resilient behavior in individuals; therefore, this could in turn help their bodies fight off disease or illness.

The most impressive conclusion from the study was that playing video games could possibly even help those suffering from cancer and other life-threatening conditions. The reason for this goes back to the “fight or flight” response of the body. Instead of giving up mentally, individuals suffering from chronic illnesses would have more resilience and willing to fight as a result of playing video games. It may seem a little far-fetched, but results of playing video games have been promising in studies such as this.

In addition to video games fighting off disease and illnesses, researchers also believe it could help prevent them. When a person has been exposed to video game playtime, certain chemicals reactions take place in the body and brain that may allow for a stronger immune system; therefore, decreasing the chance of catching a disease or illness. One such chemical that’s known to release during video games is dopamine, which causes a sense of happiness and content in the individual.

Lead author of the study, Carol Bruggers, used three major console systems in the study – the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and the Wii. It’s important to note, however, that only therapeutic games were used during the study. Instead of allowing individual’s to play the latest Call of Duty or Halo game, they were told to play certain therapeutic games that created a more relaxing feeling to the player.

Results of the study were then published in the 2012 issue of Science Translational Medicine

"Therapeutic video games will push video game design into exciting new directions. Meeting the needs of the competing goals of physical therapy through exercise and patient empowerment is extremely challenging. The PE Game is clearly the first of a whole line of research into therapeutic video games," said Robert Kessler, director of EAE.  

To learn more about this study, visit http://unews.utah.edu/news_releases/video-games-help-patients-and-health-care-providers/.

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