Remember all those times when you were little and your mother used to tell you that playing video games is bad for you? Well you can now tell her that Tetris has health benefits.
A new study has found that spending as little as three (3) minutes playing Tetris on a tablet, smartphone, console, or whatever you can think of, will chase away your craving for food, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, sex and plain old sleep. In fact, the approach is so effective that three (3) minutes of Tetris will reduce your craving by almost 20 percent (20%).
And the best part is that the more you play, the less you’ll crave your vice. Professor Jackie Andrade, study co-author and member of Plymouth University (United Kingdom), gave a statement saying that “Playing Tetris decreased craving strength for drugs, food, and activities from 70 percent (70%) to 56 percent (56%)”.
She went on to add that the study she and her colleagues conducted “is the first demonstration that cognitive interference can be used outside the lab to reduce cravings for substances and activities other than eating”.
The team of researchers from the Plymouth University and the Queensland University of Technology first proved their theory about a year ago, in a lab setting, and recently decided to take the next natural step in their project by proving it in a real world setting. The study is the first of its kind.
For their study, Professor Andrade and her team looked at 31 students with the age between 18 and 27. They surveyed the cravings of the subjects by sending them no less than seven (7) text messages each day, reminding them to inform researchers of what they craved and whether or not they indulged in it.
They also asked subjects to report any and all cravings that they may have in between text messages. The subjects typically complied and rated the intensity of their craving with a number from zero (0) to one hundred (100). They also had to inform researchers whether or not they had been drinking alcohol around the time they sent their answers.
Out of the 31 subjects, 15 of them were asked to spend three (3) minutes playing Tetris on an iPod after sending each of their answer. The other 16 subjects acted as a control group that helped the research team understand just how much of a difference Tetris made.
The students reported having various cravings about 30 percent (30%) of the time. Most of them (two thirds) were related to either food of non-alcoholic beverages.
So-called addictive substances such as cigarettes, beer, wine and coffee made up 21 percent (21%) of the cravings, while sleep, socialization, sex and video games made up 16 percent (16%) of the cravings.
Professor Andrade and her team concluded that Tetris had a consistent impact “across the week and on all craving types”. Professor Jon May, study co-author and member of Plymouth University, said that the effect of the game did not wear off even though people played it for “40 times on average”.
The findings are that much more important as Tetris is not a new game. A game or app that distracted subjects from their carving simply because it was new would have most likely lost its efficiency over time.
But Tetris became popular sometime in the 1990s. It was initially played on small gadgets designed specifically for the game. Soon enough PC versions were developed, and these days most people can find an app for it that’s compatible with their smartphone or tablet.
The study was published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.
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