Healthy Gaming: 6 Tips for Getting Fit Without Compromising a Gamer Lifestyle
Gaming is truly a way of life for many people, but leading a too sedentary lifestyle can be detrimental to your physical wellbeing. Integrating healthy habits into your daily life doesn’t mean you need to compromise your gaming routine.
Here, we'll talk about how to plan breaks from gaming to stretch, exercise, and practice healthy eating. We'll also look at certain stretches that can target issues that arise from repetitive gaming, such as carpal tunnel.
Negative Impacts of a Sedentary Lifestyle
The human body was designed to be active. While video games are an entertaining hobby, they require sitting for extended periods of time. If you’re a serious gamer, you probably spend a significant chunk of time each day playing on your console or PC.
You don’t need to sacrifice your gaming habits, but you need to be aware of the side effects of a sedentary lifestyle to understand the importance of incorporating active tasks in between gaming sessions.
One of the most common side effects of being inactive is weight gain. Without physical activity, your body has no way to burn off excess fat and keep you slim and lean. Gaining weight can itself lead to more health complications, including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.
The lack of exercise is the main cause of weight gain, but extended periods of immobility can also lower your metabolism, which makes it more difficult for you to lose weight. A slower metabolism makes it more difficult for your body to burn calories and may even cause your body to be unable to break down fat.
The longer you sit in one position, the less flexible you become. Your muscles in your back, glutes, and abs will become tightened and inflamed — an uncomfortable and unhealthy situation.
This tightness also leads to a loss of flexibility, one of the reasons that stretching breaks are so vital during long gaming sessions. Inactivity not only leads to a decrease in flexibility, but it can also diminish muscle strength and endurance.
Including healthy exercise and eating habits throughout your day can aid in maintaining your strength and flexibility, keeping your body healthy and in shape.
Swap Unhealthy Snacks for Nutritious Ones
Gaming is sometimes associated with binge eating and unhealthy snacks like potato chips, cookies, candy, and soda. Some research suggests that playing video games, or even watching TV, can have an effect on how people eat. It’s easier to eat more than you need to while focused on gaming or watching a show.
If you’re consuming unhealthy snacks and not integrating physical activity into your everyday life, you’re more likely to suffer from some of the health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle. To avoid this, try replacing these unhealthy snacks with nutritious ones like
- Frozen grapes
- Pita bread and hummus
- Fruits and veggies
- Various types of nuts
- almonds, pistachios, and walnuts
Shakes made with protein powder are another way to keep your energy up without adding unhealthy, processed ingredients or ingesting a high number of calories.
Stretch While Gaming
To avoid inflammation, joint pain, and muscle stiffness, stretching breaks during video gaming sessions are essential. Spend at least three to five minutes every hour stretching your legs, back, arms, and chest.
Your wrists are another area that experiences a lot of stress from video gaming, but you may want to develop a specific hand and wrist routine to avoid further health issues. Toe touches are a creative way to release tension in your back and can also help stretch your hamstrings.
Any variety of arm exercises will get your blood flowing again and encourage muscle stimulation.
Exercise Your Hands and Wrists
If you consider yourself a serious and frequent gamer, your wrists and hands may be particularly susceptible to developing issues in the future. Carpal tunnel is one of the most common effects of repetitive motions like using a controller. Try some of these wrist stretches for gamers to prevent problems in the future.
Try Exercising While Playing
Exercise is vital to optimal health because it keeps your metabolism in check, builds muscle, and burns off fat. Believe it or not, there are actually dozens of exercises you can perform while you’re gaming.
Many of these workouts are performed in a seated position to allow you to still focus on your game, but even if you do these exercises while playing, you still need to integrate other stretches and exercises that involve standing to make sure that your legs are engaged.
Practice workouts like ab squeezes and stationary biking along with these other gaming exercises to improve your physical health.
Drink Protein Shakes to Ensure You’re Consuming Enough Protein
As mentioned, dietary habits are important to a healthy lifestyle. Exercise plus a nutritious diet are mandatory to reach your highest level of fitness.
One concern gamers may have is in regard to their protein intake. Though snacking is typically associated with gaming, these unhealthy, processed foods often lead people to feel full when in fact they are not receiving enough protein.
Invest in some quality protein powder and a protein shaker and then try to integrate shakes into your daily diet. This will ensure that you’re receiving the proper amount of protein and provide you with the energy to complete your workouts.
Invest in Interactive Exercise Video Games
Another great way to get your body engaged while playing video games is by purchasing one of the many interactive gaming systems or VR devices, which allow you to move around while playing.
The Nintendo Wii was the first gaming system that really let you move around while playing video games, but now other major console producers have created similar products to get gamers moving. Xbox offers a wide variety of active video games, including Xbox Fitness, Kinect Sport, and a number of dance games, among others. If you’re a PlayStation user, you can also take advantage of similar interactive games and help maintain your body’s fitness without sacrificing your gamer lifestyle.
If you can afford a VR headset, such as the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, games like Beat Saber are also great ways to get in shape.
Editor's Note: Chris Gronkowski is contributing to GameSkinny through our guest writer series, where we provide a platform for thought leaders to share great ideas with you, the reader.
About the author: A former 3-year starter in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts, and Denver Broncos, Chris Gronkowski is now the CEO of Ice Shaker. Ice Shaker has been featured on ABC's Shark Tank, Good Morning America, HLN morning express, Forbes, and others. Chris is the middle of the five Gronkowski brothers and has started writing about his athletic and entrepreneurial experiences.