The physiological and biochemical effects of gaming: A review

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6 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Recreational, seated video gaming (gaming) has become a favorite pastime of children, adolescents, and adults (gamers) in developed countries. Some engage in gaming behavior for more than 6 h daily, which can subsequently lead to less time spent being physically active. Gaming can potentially have a serious impact on the physiology and biochemistry of gamers and can influence both short-term and long-term health. The aim of this review was to provide an overview of what is known about how gaming affects physiological and biochemical parameters in the human body and how studies have previously been designed and to discuss how studies can be designed moving forward.

METHODS: The literature search included material from three scientific databases (PubMed, EMBASE, and Web of Science) using a two-block search strategy. To be included in this review, studies had to investigate a biochemical or physiological aspect of sedentary, video game-related activities. Studies that investigated neurological, psychologic or musculoskeletal outcomes along with physiological or biochemical outcomes in gaming were eligible for inclusion. Studies regarding psychiatric conditions were excluded as this subject was outside the scope of this review. Additionally, non-English language articles were excluded.

RESULTS: A total of 5417 articles were screened, 138 studies from the literature search and 4 studies from reference lists were selected for further evaluation. The studies were evaluated based on their abstracts or full texts, and 51 studies were eventually included in the review. Thirty-seven studies included physiological results, seven studies included biochemical results, and seven studies included both. Several outcomes such as heart rate, blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and cortisol levels, were the subjects of a large number of investigations.

CONCLUSION: This field is heterogenic and does not lend itself to firm conclusions. Tentatively, it seems reasonable to conclude that heart rate variability studies show that gaming increases activity in the sympathetic nervous system. More high-quality studies are required, and the lack of studies using uniform, standardized designs and realistic gaming sessions (i.e., longer than 30 min) limits our current knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109344
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


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