Discover how playing video games can improve your health. 

The health benefits of video games for older adults include improved balance, better cognitive function, and a happier mood.Have you heard your children or grandchildren ask for the latest video game console as a gift? Or maybe they enjoy brushing up on their gaming skills during their free time?

Even if you’ve never tried gaming before, maybe it’s time to pick up the controller yourself! Research shows that there can be a wide variety of health benefits of video games for older adults.

Explore these five health benefits of video games:

  1. Improved cognitive function
  2. Better fitness and balance
  3. Sharper vision and spatial attention
  4. Improved mood
  5. Brain benefits

Below, learn more about the reasons behind these health benefits of video games.

Improved cognitive function
When you’re playing a video game, your brain is engaged in what you’re doing. You might have puzzles to solve, enemies to defeat, a storyline to follow, characters to develop, knowledge and skills to learn, and so on. It makes sense that all this activity is good for our brains! The cognitive benefits of video games include improved memory and focus, as well as keeping your brain active and engaged.

Better fitness and balance
There are some video games and consoles that offer games that encourage physical activity. For instance, Wii consoles are a popular way to play indoor sports and activities like tennis, baseball, bowling, dance games, balance challenges, and workout programs. The more recently released Nintendo Switch console also has similar games that get you up and moving. If you’re looking for a lower-tech way to boost your balance, try these exercises to improve balance. Before trying any new fitness game or program, be sure to check with your doctor.

Sharper vision and spatial attention
If you’re playing a type of video game that requires you to scan for movement and react quickly, your real-world spatial skills and vision might get a boost too! For instance, some research shows that people who play action video games can better distinguish color contrast levels. If you’re a fan of video games where you explore large worlds, you could also develop improved navigational skills.

Improved mood
Sometimes, the best reason to engage in a particular hobby is simply that you enjoy it! Playing video games with grandkids, family, or friends can be a perfect way to lift your mood, thanks to the social connections, united goals, and laughter along the way. Even if you live far away from your friends or family or are unable to see them because of social distancing, video games that offer options to play with others over the internet can be a fantastic way to stay connected.

Brain benefits
An extra benefit of keeping your brain active is that it can slow the cognitive decline that can contribute to diseases like Alzheimer’s. Games that involve logic and puzzles, like the Super Mario 64 game mentioned in this study, are particularly effective. You can also check out these memory games for seniors — some are smartphone or tablet apps, while others are “real-world” games that don’t require a video game setup.

Want to learn more about some great apps to download for playing video games, listening to music, and other activities? Check out these top tablet applications for seniors.

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