Video games are often derided as the leisure activity of choice forlazy slobsor teenage nerdshiding away in their mother’s basement. But not all video games deserve to be slapped with a health warning label. Some of these games can help you practice mindfulness and gain a sense of calm, some can teach you how to dance, and some can even be used as a cheap substitute for a personal fitness trainer. Here are 5kinds of video games that will improve your physical and mental fitness, and not leave you feeling like a couch potato.
There has been an explosion in video games dedicated to fitness in recent years, with titles offering yoga, Pilates, cardio, strength training and much more. The level of instruction and feedback offered by such games can compete with having your own personal trainer, just with much less expense and with 24/7 availability. These games also offer a variety of ambient atmospheres, where you can work out in alpine retreats, desert springs and meditation gardens.However, you don’t have to be a gym bunny to take advantage of fitness games. For those of you who want to leisurely enjoy the great outdoors a bit more, then why not try Pokémon Go on your phone? This fun app lets you explore your surroundings and collect virtual prizes as you go, with an estimated 340 billion calories burned by players in the first 2 months of its release.
First-person shooter games often get a bad rap forencouraging violent behaviour in the real world, although most studies contradict this. Whatever your position is on that thorny subject, the truth is that it can just be a heck of a lot of fun to go around pumping lead into some bad guys. Many of us have stressful work lives, and shooter games can be a great way to release tension and frustration. Big-name titlessuch asWolfenstein, Assassin’s Creedand Half-life have entertained players for decades, as they are fun diversions from the demands of the everyday world. The fast-paced action of these games also seems to speed up our decision-making skills and increase mental flexibility, as it stimulates our in-builtfight-or-flight response. And from a physical health perspective, studies conducted by the University of Toronto have proved that shooter games significantly improve hand-eye coordination. So, if you want to try a fun way to increase your brain power and general coordination skills, then you might want to consider a few rounds of Call of Duty.
Video games are mostly associated with exciting action that gets your blood pumping, rather than a sedate and relaxing experience. However, you might be surprised to know that there are plenty of titles which are specifically designed to relax you and contribute to a sense of mental well-being. A new breed of so-called Emotionally Responsive Games (or ERG’s) seek to increase players’ resilience to mental health problems. BfB Labs have produced a game called Champions of the Shengha which uses a Bluetooth biofeedback monitor to reward gamers’ ability to remain calm under pressure. In a trial at a school in the UK, more than 80% of pupils doubled their heart-rate variability (HRV)by playing the game, with 25% now using the techniques to stay calm in everyday life.
There should be no surprise that dance classes are the most popular kind of gym session, as they are a fun way to burn the calories and improve your cardio. With such a wide range of dancing video games now available, there’s no reason why you can’t get your groove on from the comfort of your own home. The Just Dance series of titles are available across most gaming platforms, including the humble PC, but to get the most out of these rhythm games, it’s best to choose a device equipped with dance pads, so you can practice the moves on the screen and get instant feedback on how to improve them. Owners of Nintendo’s Wii platform are particularly spoiled for choice, with practically every musical genre covered. They even have an Abba title now, so you too can be a Dancing Queen.
Some games help develop the tough mental attitude required to keep you pushing yourself to the limit in your workout, while others help improve the strategic skills necessary to plan the perfect workout routine.Online casino games can help with both these aspects.Take online slots, for example. Although theyshare many similarities with the fruit machines you used to see in pubs and penny arcades, online slots have several added features which allow players to triumph using a mix of strategy and perseverance.For example, certain games are pooled together to produce shared jackpots, which you can qualify for by playing a minimum number of spins, giving you the chance to win millions for a relatively small investment.Best of all, in most cases you don’t have to risk any real money, as many slot games can be played in a free mode. Slots are certainly an entertaining way to relax your mind between physical workout sessions.
Video games are not often considered as part and parcel of a healthy lifestyle. However, if you play the right games in moderation, then you can take your mental and physical well-being to the next level. So why not embrace your inner nerd and get playing today?