Staying Healthy While Playing Video Games

It’s a problem lots of gamers, whether they’re console, PC or tabletop variant gamers, face: sure, slouching on a comfortable couch or in a comfortable chair and playing for a while is fun but the more time you spend playing, the less time you spend being active. It’s also easier to indulge in unhealthy eating and drinking habits simply because junk food is easier to eat while you’re playing.

Let’s use Robert Zabel as an example: Robert loves video games. He loves the Assassin’s Creed games, Crysis, and pretty much anything put out by Rockstar. Unfortunately, video games keep people sedentary and many health experts warn against excessive gaming.

Staying Healthy While Playing Video Games

But is it possible to live a healthy lifestyle without giving up one of your favorite hobbies?

Here are some tips that Robert (and you) can use to help you improve his health while he plays.

1. Practice Proper Posture

Admittedly, this is going to be easier if you’re a tabletop gamer or a computer gamer than if you’re a console gamer. Sitting up straight might feel tiring at first but the more you do it, the better it is going to feel. In fact, if you keep doing it, correct posture will soon feel better than slouching.

Why? Because slouching puts a lot of pressure on your abdominal organs. The weight of your body pushing down on them can cause them performance problems and even, over time, real damage. Correct posture, on the other hand, puts your body weight on to your muscles, which are built to handle it. Gizmodo has a really good guide to proper posture if you’re unsure of how to position your body.

2. Get up!

As a console gamer, the best thing you can do for yourself is to stand up and move around while you play. Standing up straight or even walking around a little bit while you play is much better for your body than simply lounging on the couch (even if that couch is in a gaming room you built yourself).  Standing is a growing trend in lots of hobbies and even occupations. Many office workers are switching out their traditional desks for standing or even walking desks. Why not stand while you game? Better yet? Get a Wii or the XBox Kinect so that you have to get up!

3. Food

Venture Beat has a really great guide to food and nutrition for gamers who want to learn how to eat healthier snacks. The two tips that stand out the most are the switching of chips and cheetos to fruit or 100 calorie snack packs and the switching of sodas for water or iced teas. Beyond calories, making these changes also cuts down on the amount of salt, sugar and fat you consume, which is another important factor that many gamers overlook.

4. Your Mood

In 2008, the Journal of Preventive Medicine published a study that linked gaming to depression and weight gain in adults. The study showed that while gaming can be a great “mental break” for people, that “mental break” can become addictive, leading to adults eschewing their off-game lives for in-game rewards. It’s a slippery slope, to be sure. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, set a timer when you game. An hour or even two is okay. Seven or eight is not.

There are plenty of ways to balance the fun of gaming and the health of your body and mind. These are just a few of them! What are some of your favorite ways to balance your health and your hobbies?