The world of video games and fitness used to be completely disconnected. It was a fact as true as the sky being blue.
There was a stereotype of what a gamer was, and it did not involve keeping fit, healthy or well. But that has rapidly changed. Originally with things like Wii Fit, and today with fitness apps and VR headsets, it seems like video games can very much be included as part of a healthy fitness regime.
But it’s not just helpful in obvious ways. Video games can also help to boost your mental health.
Video Games and Mental Health
The only conversation about mental health and video games used to be linked to addiction. Tales of people who became so hooked to video games that they forgot to eat or sleep were commonplace for years.
But then studies started to find the opposite was true. Outside of very extreme cases, video games could actually be good for your mental health.
There are a variety of ways this is true. It helps to foster a good sense of accomplishment, knocking off achievements or overcoming challenges. In the right doses, and at the right time, it can be a good distraction from the difficulties that life often throws at us. And, in multiplayer games, it can create a sense of community, friendship and camaraderie that is so often missing in modern life.
None of these are good replacements for real life achievements and friendships, but they can enhance an already balanced life. Video games are rich, varied and interesting. We can choose to explore far-off worlds or win a world cup in this one. This can help us keep a sense of adventure, and excitement.
Video Games and Physical Health
Of course, it isn’t just mental health that can be helped by video games. In fact, physical health is becoming a much bigger deal as well.
Ever since Wii Fit gave couch potatoes a little incentive to get some steps in, there has been a drive to push even further. Sometimes that has come in the guise of dancing games, other times it has been more novel or involved. Today, fitness is mostly brought about using apps and VR.
Investing in the kit can be expensive, but that’s true for any home exercise equipment. The price isn’t stopping it from rapidly expanding. It seems VR fitness is here to stay.
And it’s not just a gimmicky alternative to a trip to the gym. Studies have shown that workouts using VR can be just as useful as those elsewhere. And the beautiful thing is that many VR apps disguise the hard work, so you just think you’re having fun. Isn’t that a dream?
Tying both these points together is the gamification of exercise. Working out can stop being the goal and reward. Instead, players – exercisers – are given in-game rewards for reaching goals. This hit of happy hormone helps you continue to work through the game, and accidentally work some exercise into the bargain as well.