Research has found that a short burst of intense exercise may improve gaming performance. The study put a group of gamers through two conditions, one in which people got active before gaming and one where they remained sedentary, and then tested their overall performance. It seems that getting your sweat on in real life may improve your performance in the virtual world.
The study enrolled 20 participants, all of whom were young gamers that were put to the test playing League Of Legends. Often referred to as League, it’s a multiplayer online video game and for the study, the participants were playing a customized version.
Performance was measured by the total number of targets eliminated, as well as the accuracy of the attempted assassinations. Taking out an opponent with a single attack was scored the most highly, and researchers assessed the changes to performance and enjoyment after two conditions: exercise and sedentary.
In the exercise condition, the participants completed 15 minutes of high intensity interval training, or HIIT. In the sedentary condition, they read. The results showed that exercising improved the participants’ capacity to eliminate targets as well as their accuracy compared to the reading condition.
The findings are based on a small sample size and just one video game, so the researchers suggest that more research needs to be conducted in order to conclude if the same effect might be seen in other games and gamers. However, given the association of extreme gaming with sedentary behavior, they suggest it could prove valuable in getting more of the planet up on their feet for a healthy balance of movement in the real world as well as in virtual ones.
While gaming has been associated with some cognitive and possibly even physical benefits, the authors believe the general health of the average gamer could stand to benefit from a little less time spent sitting.
“Video game screen time, specifically, has been associated with reduced physical activity,” concluded the study authors. “Physical inactivity, in turn, has shown to increase the risk of developing cardiometabolic clinical conditions such as hyperlipidemia, coronary heart disease, and diabetes.”
“Demonstrating that exercise has positive effects on video game performance could provide a compelling argument to redefine the existing dichotomy between video games and physical activity and, more importantly, to convince the rapidly growing population of video gamers to become physically more active.”
The study was published in Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise.