Video Games and Health: How to be a Healthier Gamer

Posted by Jacob St. Martin on September 24, 2013 in Gaming Lifestyle -- Share:

Gaming is a lot of fun, and there are a lot of positive things which it brings to the table. It can tell great stories, bring people together, and really improve a day. However, it is an activity which can lead to some pretty unhealthy lifestyles.

Hardcore gamers may find themselves especially vulnerable to some damaging life habits. Everyone is different, so there will be some variance in what works best for each person, but here are four general suggestions which should help the hardcore gamer stay healthy.

1. Eat Healthy

Obesity remains one of the greatest enemies the United States combats today. This is caused mainlyby a sedentary lifestyle, and a bad diet. It’s not all about appearance either, as even a thin person can be steadily degrading on the inside, leading to bigger problems down the road.

Gaming, especially in groups, often involves a lot of snacking since eating a true meal isn’t very convenient. Sadly, a lot of the most convenient and tasty snacks are either nutritionally vacuous, or are downright unhealthy. This includes such thins as soda poop, potato chips, and frozen snacks like pizza pockets.

How to fix this? Change your go-to eating habits. Purchase or make healthier snacks. Specific foods probably deserve their own blog post, but many fruits, vegetables, and nuts make excellent, easy finger foods which can be eaten mid-game.

Specific food choice of course varies based on availability, expense, and personal preference, but here are some healthy alternatives:

  • Apple Slices
  • Carrot Sticks
  • Celery
  • Banana
  • String Cheese
  • Granola
  • Pop Corn
  • Grapes
  • Yogurt

As a bonus, consuming healthier snacks not only helps prevent bad things, but also provides better overall energy for the gaming session.

2. Find an enjoyable Physical Activity

Eating right is helpful, but the human body still needs some element of physical activity to remain in good condition. Not only does it help keep the body structure more sound, but it also promotes better functions within the organs themselves.

Unless it’s an inherently physical game, like Dance Dance Revolution, most video games involve sitting in a the same spot for awhile. It’s great to become immersed in the gaming experience, but it’s very important to give the body the activity it needs. Before we move on, for those of you who don’t know what Dance Dance Revolution is, here is someone who is much too good at the game:

 

Medical science is pretty unanimous in concluding that an excessively sedentary lifestyle causes serious health issues in the long run, and this is the sort of thing that gamers need to watch out for.

It’s not necessary to become a gym rat, but some time spent on the treadmill and weight bench certainly wouldn’t hurt. For those who are a bit more limited, it could be as simple as taking a walk around the block. What’s important is to get moving, stay moving, and make the body work.

Finding physically exerting hobbies is a great way to stay active, as it’s always easier to do something which is fun. This can be things like a recreational sports league, martial arts, and dancing.

3. Maintain Personal Hygiene

This one seems quite obvious, but it can be easy to get lazy when at home. After all, you’re not trying to actually impress Princess Peach or look dapper for the citizens of Azeroth. However, it is still important to maintain basic grooming habits. It’s surprisingly easy to let once-in-awhile lapses become negative habits.

Some personal hygiene exists for health reasons, not just to aesthetically look or smell nice. When the dentist advises for daily cleaning, the core reason is to save the body from disease. Sure, it’ll also cleanse the foul aroma leaking from the mouth, but the true benefit is that it’ll prevent bacterial buildup and cavities.

Other important things include washing of the face, trimming nails, changing clothes, changing and cleaning sheets, etc… These are all easy to set aside when a new game calls, but it’s important to take care of your body by observing basic routine hygiene.

4. Find a Social Group

The average person is a social creature and needs other people for a truly healthy and well rounded lifestyle. There are many amazing and loveable characters in the gaming world, but there is no replacement for human interaction.

Part of the problem is that sometimes gaming is more fun than being around people. However, when given the option, it is important to choose human company a healthy part of the time. Multiplayer games offer the best of both worlds – you can game and spend times with your friends!

A good first step is to find individuals or groups who are interested in the same games. This will give you a chance to interact with people who already have a similar interest.

The gaming community can admittedly be a bit wild at times, but they can also be pretty welcoming to newcomers. Game conventions and events are highly encouraged as they attract a similar crowd, but sometimes it’s possible to make friends even on game forums.

5. Keep gaming in context

We are here on a gaming site because we all have something in common – we like playing games. Some of us really, really like playing games. However, gaming addiction is a real thing, and it’s important to keep game time in perspective.

Gaming is and should be a blast – the best games immerse us in foreign universes and create stories which resound with our own experiences. That being said, living life to play the next game is a dangerous rope to walk as it’s trading the real world for a fantasy world, sometimes literally.

For some of us, that may be the reason why games are so attractive, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using games as an escape. It is possible to become too lost in the rabbit hole, and people have lost jobs, relationships, and more due to gaming addictions. Don’t let that become you!

Winning at life is the most important game of all.

Written by

Jacob works at Big Fish Games out of Seattle. He loves to laugh, enjoy good food (all food except Avacados), and play competitive games of all sorts. When not gaming, he practices martial arts and has recently picked up snowboarding and dancing, with very mixed results. He loves a good challenge! Feel free to get in touch with him on Twitter! or Google+

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