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Plugged In

Video games help seniors stay healthier, happier

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(Credit: Getty Images)

Want to keep grandma happy? Hand her a Wiimote!

A study out of North Carolina State has found a link between elderly people who play video games and not only improved happiness, but better overall health.

"The research published here suggests that there a link between gaming and better well-being and emotional functioning," Dr. Jason Allaire, lead author of a paper describing the study and an associate professor of psychology at NC State, said in a press release. "We are currently planning studies to determine whether playing digital games actually improves mental health in older adults."

Researchers asked 140 seniors (63 and up) how often they played video games, if at all. Over 60 percent of them did so at least occasionally, and 35 percent said they played at least once per week.

After assessing their emotional and social well-being, researchers found that participants who played video games, including those who only played occasionally, reported higher levels of well-being. Those who did not play video games reported more negative emotions and a tendency toward higher levels of depression.

The study is not conclusive due to the small sampling size, but it's hardly the first time science has linked games to and improved quality of life in the golden years. Last year, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that select video games may have positive mental benefits for older adults and could help stave off dementia. They've also been shown to help ease the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.

Games that encourage players to get off the couch and move have been tied to improved health -- especially in the elderly.

As people get older, they tend to move less. Researchers found that only 14 percent of adults over the age of 65 exercise regularly. Once they cross the age of 70, that number slips to 7 percent. Adding a gaming element takes the drudgery out of working out and boosts the overall health of the player.

Not to mention that they're just flat out fun. Just ask the amazing gaming grandpa. So awesome.

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