Video Games and Heart Health

by | Feb 4, 2022 | Issue 138, Issues, Lifestyle | 0 comments

Video games are becoming increasingly popular, to the point where video game consoles are now found in almost every household. However, you may not know that video gameplay can be...

Video games are becoming increasingly popular, to the point where video game consoles are now found in almost every household. However, you may not know that video gameplay can be hazardous to your heart health, depending on how much time video game addicts spend playing video games. As a result, playing too many video games can result in problems with obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure.



Video Games Allow Sedentary Behavior

Video games are one of the most popular forms of entertainment worldwide. They are enjoyed by people of all ages and have been around for decades. However, video games are not just a form of entertainment – they can also be addictive and have adverse effects on our health. 

One such effect is encouraging sedentary behavior. Video games lead to inactivity or sedentary behavior because they allow gamers to become sedentary as they do not require physical engagement. 

Gamers can sometimes play for hours on end, reducing their physical activity. According to the American Heart Association, such sedentary behavior is always harmful to you and increases the risk of death from all causes. Sedentary behavior has been linked with many health problems like obesity and heart disease.



Video Games and Obesity

Obesity is a severe result of video games fostering inactive behavior in children and others. If this sedentary behavior is allowed to grow, the player may become obese over time. Because video games occupy a person’s time and attention, that person is less likely to go outside and engage in physical activity. 

Researchers have found that video games and TV could double a child’s risk for obesity. Furthermore, this increased risk for obesity creates a greater risk to the child’s heart health as children who develop obesity become at risk for heart conditions later in life.



Video Games Can Trigger Heart Conditions

Video games and heart health don’t just stop at obesity, though. Studies have also shown that video games can lead to heart arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) in young people. A study of three children from the ages of 10 to 15 found that pre-existing heart conditions could be triggered during intense video gaming. When a person plays video games for an extended time, the increased concentration and excitement can cause the heart rate to spike and irregular heartbeats to develop. This can be dangerous in children with underlying heart conditions and lead to cardiac arrest.



Video Games Can Increase Blood Pressure

In addition to heart arrhythmias, video games have also been linked with increased blood pressure levels. When a person plays video games for an extended time, that person’s heart has to work harder to pump blood throughout the body, causing a dangerous increase in blood pressure and leading to heart attacks and strokes. According to a study from the National Library of Medicine, video games increase the systolic blood pressure and heart rate of young men. Due to this increase, it’s possible that playing video games could affect the future heart health of players.



Tips for Parents to Keep Their Children’s Hearts Healthy

While video games can negatively affect our health, video games do not have to be harmful if gamers take breaks throughout gaming sessions, engage in physical activity and monitor their video game playing habits. 

Video games and heart health have been linked for some time now, with obesity and heart arrhythmias being the most common conditions associated with video gaming. Obese children are more likely to develop heart conditions as adults, so parents should watch video game playtime and video game habits to ensure that video games don’t harm children’s hearts as they grow up.

Video games also increase heart rate and blood pressure, which is dangerous for anybody with an underlying heart condition. 

Here are some tips for parents to help keep their children hearts healthy:

  • Limit gameplay time to no more than two hours a day. 
  • Encourage your child to take breaks every hour and get up and move around.
  • Make sure your child engages in daily physical activity.
  • Have gaming sessions with your child and be involved in playing.
  • Discourage your child from playing video games if they have any underlying heart conditions.



A Parting Reminder

Video games can have many adverse effects on our heart health. They can lead to obesity, inactivity, heart arrhythmias and increased blood pressure. While video games can be entertaining, it is essential to be mindful of their risks to our health. So gamers, please play video games responsibly.

Luke Argue

Luke Argue