Time spent engaging with an enjoyable activity is rarely time wasted. This is increasingly true when it comes to the social sphere, where direct peer communication and communal exercise has been shown not only to improve our moods but to also offer direct benefits when it comes to wellbeing.

This can tie into many forms of entertainment, from video gaming to sports and, yes, even just spending time at some of Manchester’s pubs with friends and family.

Keeping Mentally Active

According to some studies, people with active social lives enjoy a wide range of benefits as varied as better physical health, improved mental health, lower risks of dementia, and the potential to live longer. Much of this is related to how keeping active both mentally and physically keeps us in better shape, and this is generally much easier to accomplish when social interaction is involved.

Many of us already know how stimulating a trivia night can be, for example, and the benefits that this can have in your daily life are not something that should be underestimated. One study from Brigham Young University found that people active in the social sphere live around 50% longer than those socially isolated, which is reason enough to engage on this level.

The Importance of Easier Exercise

On a more interpersonal and active level, time spent gaming with friends can also make exercise easier and help build understanding, relationships, and trust far quicker than simply remaining idle. Bar gaming has always been our favourite in this regard, with darts and pool competitions having carried us through many late nights.

In fact, higher levels of exercise derived from these activities can reduce risks of dementia by 30-40% in some groups, even as little as three 15-minute sessions a week. Exercise can also quickly reduce the risk of heart disease, with as little as 2 hours a week giving a decreased risk of 27%, which increases to a 41% reduction for 5 hours a week.

Where social gaming and the exercise it can bring are concerned, one of the biggest hits in Manchester at the moment are the games available at the Roxy Ball Room. While pool and snooker are included here, the more standout inclusion comes from the numerous table tennis games. With the ball and tables specially painted and glowing under a blacklight, it’s far more interesting than many pub games and has proven a smash hit among both locals and travellers.

Going Digital

There is another more direct benefit here that has only recently entered the realm of gaming reality, that of physical exercise. While games that encourage exercise on some level have existed for some time, it’s the opportunities afforded by augmented reality (AR) gaming that raise the bar to an entirely new level.

The worldwide phenomenon of Pokémon Go is a strong illustration of this. Playing this game means walking at the very least, as travelling to different locations is how players collected the eponymous creatures. From there, additional walking and running can help new Pokémon hatch from eggs and strengthen those that players already possess.

There are also many alternatives out there for those who would rather avoid Pokémon, with Turf Wars being our choice for a more adult-oriented AR experience. Social and play-time can also rely on more traditional forms of gaming as made similarly possible through mobile technology, with anything from Candy Crush to enjoying blackjack online being available on the go to make your gaming experience more sociable.

Exercise, relax, and have fun, all at the same time.

One of the most impressive aspects of how social activity positively affects us comes from the idea that, so far at least, the benefits have been more accidental than intentional. We are social creatures, and being active on this front can come with benefits on the personal and interpersonal levels.

It’s not just an excuse to have fun with your friends, social time and gaming can actually make you a happy and healthier person.

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