Look, I love gaming. Video games are a lifelong passion of mine, and I’ll be playing them well into my twilight years. I’ll always be a gamer; that’s something which is never going to change about me. At the same time, I’m not blinding myself to a rather inconvenient truth about my lifestyle; it’s something a great many of us probably would rather avoid thinking about.
Honestly, video games are goddamned horrible for your health.
It’s not just games, of course. Our society has, in essence, become one that encourages a sedentary lifestyle. We sit while we travel. We sit while we’re at work. We sit when we get home. And along with all this sitting, we never really stop eating. Many of us – particularly young adults – are guilty of shoving some downright vile stuff into our mouths while we play, without really thinking about the long-term consequences. Unless we’re all keen on having coronaries by the time we’re forty, that needs to stop.
Today, I’m going to offer everybody a bit of advice – advice I myself am going to try to keep to. Here are a few obvious – and not so obvious – tips to keep yourself in good health while plopped in front of a desk (and in your life, as well).
[heading]Watch What You Eat [/heading]
This should be pretty obvious…but it’s not. Not as much as one might expect, anyway. Tell me, does anyone here know how many calories they consumed today? What about how much nutrition they got out of their food? Hell, does anyone even remember all the crap they shoveled into their mouth?
The first, most important piece of advice I’m going to give you is that you need to start paying attention to what sort of stuff you’re gnawing on while you work and game. Are you downing several cans of pop a day? Are you wolfing down chips like a human garbage disposal? Are you forgetting to eat altogether, then gorging yourself when mealtime comes along? Time to cut out all these bad habits. Start writing down calorie counts and nutritional information if you must, but either way, start paying attention.
[heading]Keep An Eye On The Clock[/heading]
I doubt I’m the only one here who’s found himself gaming late into the evening. In fact, I’m certain I’m not. Thing is…losing out on sleep is probably one of the worst things you can do. It wreaks havoc on your body and mind, it borks up your metabolism, and most importantly, it completely destroys your ability to game. The key to this is simple – start watching the clock while you play. Schedule your game time, and stick to it. It’ll get easier the more you do. Trust me.
[heading]Set Up An Exercise Routine[/heading]
Alright. We’re getting into some advanced stuff here. It’s time to do a bit of research, folks. Figure out a type of exercise you’d love – and I mean really love – to do, and start doing it. In my case, it’s swimming – something about being in the water is immensely relaxing to me, and swimming a couple laps each day has worked wonders. Again, your routine means nothing if you don’t stick to it. If need be, start dragging a friend along. It’s easier to do something when you’ve someone else holding you accountable, after all.
[heading]Try Getting A Bike Or A Treadmill[/heading]
Of course, maybe you’re unwilling to sacrifice your game time just to get in shape. I understand – you’re not going to get to Challenger by having great abs, after all. ‘Course, just because you don’t care to leave your console (or PC), doesn’t mean you can’t work out a bit. Though I’ve never really been one for it, you could always try rigging up a bike or a treadmill so you can exercise while you game. I’ve actually known a couple people who do this; they speak quite highly of it.
[heading]Tap Your Feet(And Try Other Stuff, Too) [/heading]
Take a look at this article on Forbes. It’s a list of simple, low-pressure yet effective exercises you can perform without ever having to leave your desk (or your couch, as it were). Try carrying out a few of these exercises during downtime in your game session; while waiting for a game to load, while waiting on a raid to start, or while waiting on your friends to get online. None of them take all that long to do, and all of them can help you get in shape if you do them often enough.
[heading]Tell Your Friends[/heading]
While I’ve already covered why you should consider getting a workout buddy, there’s something else I’d like to recommend, as well – tell your friends, guildmates, teammates…whoever you game with; tell them about your plans to get in shape. Ask them to get on your case about exercising and eating right, ask them to hold you accountable on those days when you’re a lazy slug and decide you’d rather vegetate and play Starcraft instead of working out. Use peer pressure to your advantage.
[heading]Stretch Frequently [/heading]
One of the reasons a sedentary lifestyle is so bloody unhealthy is that our bodies simply weren’t made to maintain a static position for long hours. Poor posture at your desk left unchecked can thus lead to a whole gallery of different issues down the road. Stretch well and stretch often; keep your muscles limber and relaxed while working. Otherwise, you might well need to spend a small fortune on a chiropractor or massage therapist.
It’s not enough to stretch frequently, though. You need to make sure your posture is decent, too. Stretching isn’t going to be of much use if you’re hunched over and twisted about like a mutant in front of your screen. Keep your back and neck straight and supported. Oh, and don’t bend your wrists too much. That’s a recipe for carpal tunnel.
[heading]Keep It Cool[/heading]
I’m not just talking about temperature – though it’s important you keep the climate in your gaming area comfortable enough that you don’t feel like you’re in either an oven or an igloo. What I’m actually talking about is your mental state. While a bit of frustration while playing is certainly natural, check yourself before you find yourself hurling controllers, chairs, desks, or entire PCs. While that sort of rage can be pretty amusing to watch (warning: strong language) it’s also patently unhealthy and very likely to lower your life expectancy.
Plus, you’re probably going to end up breaking some of your stuff.
[heading]Make An Effort To Change[/heading]
Thing about all the stuff I’ve listed here? It’s not going to happen if you don’t actually make an effort. You have to actually want to change – you have to actually start caring about your health – before you can actually