Four quick tips to maintain healthy gaming habits
It’s no secret that becoming the best at any particular esport requires a massive time commitment. We commonly refer to it as “The Grind” with a bit of pride whenever we talk about it. That we’ve put so much time into this one game that we are better than 99% of the rest of the game-playing population.
When asked how to make it to the pro level in esports, many pros will say you just have to “grind it out” like they once did. While there is truth to this—becoming a pro requires that time investment—what isn’t added in is that you also need to stay physically healthy while you work your way to the top.
In a recent study on The Association between Esports Participation, Health and Physical Activity Behaviour*, researchers found that esports players were more likely to be categorized as normal weight or obesity class 2 and 3. But they further went on to observe that those players ranked in the top 10% were more active than the bottom 90% of players.
At the professional level, this tracks with the empirical data that we’ve seen. Esports organizations around the world prioritize healthy living for their players. In LCS, we have players who work out four to five times a week. Other organizations, such as CLG, have been known to hold weekly yoga sessions with their players.
Professional esports organizations have realized that they want their players to be healthy. A healthy player is likely to have a longer career; a healthy player with a longer career is a much better investment for any esports org.
Four quick tips for healthy gaming
While we can’t all have weekly yoga sessions with our squad, there are things you can do to maintain healthy gaming habits as you grind it out with your friends or participate in your own gaming sessions.
One, stretching regularly is an important thing to do if you spend all day at the computer. It’s easy to just queue up for the next game and completely forget about stretching. Instead, after two games take a quick five to ten-minute break and stand up and stretch. Since you’re gaming, make sure to do some hand, arm, and wrist stretches, too. This can help make sure you don’t develop carpal tunnel injuries. If your friends just won’t wait for you, stretch while you load into a game.
Two, physical activity. While the World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes of physical activity a week, not everyone can get there. Start small if you need to. Simple walks every day are a great place to start. After that, see if you can take it up a notch and go on a bike ride or a short jog. Everything will help. If you don’t like walking around in silence, queue up your favorite esports podcast or interview and listen to that on your walk.
Three, minimize the amount of blue light you’re exposed to before you go to bed. Blue light has a tendency to mess your ability to sleep at night. Our everyday electronics are the biggest producers of blue light. Many computers and phones now have modes that will reduce the amount of blue light the devices put out during the nighttime hours. Use these features. If your computer doesn’t have one built-in, I’m personally a fan of f.lux. There are also other solutions like glasses that block blue light from your electronic devices.
Finally, try to keep a set schedule. This, more than anything, will likely help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Professional esports organizations know the power of this and keep their players on strict schedules. That means you don’t stay up till 4AM on Friday because you don’t have to go to work the next day. Keep your schedule as consistent as possible.
These four tips, stretching, physical activity, minimizing blue light, and a set schedule, are only the basics of maintaining a healthy lifestyle while gaming. But while they are the basics, they are a good start for many of us. So take a moment and stand up from your computer chair, do a few stretches, and get outside for some physical activity. Your body will thank you.
For more info on how esports organizations approach healthy gaming, check out our interview with Misfits Gaming Performance Coach, Robert Yip.
*Trotter MG, Coulter TJ, Davis PA, Poulus DR, Polman R. The Association between Esports Participation, Health and Physical Activity Behaviour. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(19):7329.