The Health Benefits of Gaming [INFOGRAPHIC]

Remember when you were told that playing video games all day was bad for you? Well, recent findings show that gaming for some of the day is actually not as harmful as we once believed. Video games today involve much more physical and mental involvement, helping kids (and adults) take advantage of potential benefits for the brain and body.

For starters, video games have become increasingly physically active. In 2011, one in five games released involved physical activities like fitness, dance and other sports. Gaming systems like Wii Fit, Xbox Kinect, and Playstation Move have all contributed to the active gaming movement and the $750 million in sales for active games alone in 2012. More than one-third of people say that they are more physically active in general since starting active gaming, and more than half actually start some type of sport or fitness after partaking in active video games. Interestingly, people who play active games for 30 minutes burn a good portion of the same calories in the digital version of the activity as they would in real life. In addition, playing active games keeps gamers busy and away from unhealthy snacks and habits.

Beyond fitness, gaming has several health and mental benefits. Recent studies have shown that playing video games can help lessen the impact of depression as well as reverse or slow damage caused by hereditary eye disease. Stroke rehabilitation has begun to include active gaming in physical therapy, as people who suffered strokes are five times more likely to regain arm function if they play active video games, along with 14.7% improvement in grip strength and 20% improvement in standard task completion.

Even more evident is that video games have been shown to improve mental function and ability. Children today spend up to 12 hours a week on the computer and TV and, given its benefits, luckily some of that time is spent gaming. With 91% of Americans between the ages of two and 17 playing video games, it’s good to know that parents are reporting that games encourage their children to develop skills and provide mental stimulation and education. A study even showed that surgeons who played three or more hours of video games a week were faster during surgery and made many fewer mistakes.

From becoming more active to improving mental and physical well-being, gaming has proven advantageous in getting healthier. With gaming’s infamous reputation for breeding laziness, it may be surprising that video games have turned out to be so beneficial. But the next time you think playing a video game may not be productive, think again.

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