Video games often get a bad rap, but there are a surprisingly large number of benefits. Video games can increase focus, improve memory, present mental challenges, and even promote physical activity!
However, playing games for too long can hurt your health. Staring at screens for too long can cause eye strain and spending too much time sitting can cause obesity.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a pro athlete to stay healthy while gaming. You don’t even have to like physical activity to stay healthy while gaming! Following the tips below can improve your overall health while still giving you plenty of time to play.
Stretch hands and wrists
Gamers rely on their hands and wrists while playing. All of those quick, repetitive movements put a strain on the muscles in your hand. Plus, constantly used joints are susceptible to arthritis. Even if your hands and wrists aren’t sore now, they could hurt when you get older.
To help keep your muscles from getting tight or your joints from getting inflamed, make sure to regularly stretch your hands and wrists when taking breaks. One way to stretch includes making a fist, slowly opening your fingers, wiggling your wrist side to side, and then gently stretching your hand backward. Never force your hand or wrist into an uncomfortable stretch.
Eat healthy snacks
If you get the munchies while playing stop reaching for chips and cookies! Chips and cookies might be convenient and taste yummy, but they’re also really unhealthy. If you’re not moving around a lot, you’re not going to burn off the calories from those unhealthy snacks.
Eating healthy snacks can give you an energy boost and prevent you from eating empty calories. Fresh vegetables, such as carrot sticks, are great for you and are easy to eat with one hand. Certain types of fruit, such as blueberries, are also really healthy. Just be mindful that some fruit has high natural sugar. If you’re craving something salty, try snacking on peanuts or unbuttered popcorn.
Exercise while gaming
Some games allow you to exercise while you’re playing. Incorporating a few of these games into your game rotation allows you to exercise while still enjoying your video games. The types of games available will vary by console, so do your research to learn what is available.
The Nintendo Switch has several games that encourage players to start exercising. Ring Fit Adventure recently came out and can help players develop an exercise routine. Other consoles, such as the Xbox One, have their own variations of exercise games. There are even phone apps, such as Pokemon Go, that encourage physical activity. Pokemon Go encourages gamers to walk around outside and catch virtual Pokemon.
Set a timer for breaks
If you are like most gamers, once you get absorbed into a game, time passes quickly. Even if you have good intentions to take a break every so often, you might not realize you’ve spent hours staring at a screen until your stomach starts growling for dinner.
Spending too much time staring at a screen causes eye strain. Get in the habit of taking a small break every 30 minutes. Ideally, you’ll go for a quick walk around the room, but you can also just give your eyes a break by looking away from the screen for a few seconds. Setting a timer on your phone can remind you to take a break.
Practice good posture
Make sure you’re practicing good posture while playing. No matter if you’re a PC gamer or a console player, you’re going to want to sit straight up with your back properly supported. Keep your feet flat against the ground. There are gaming chairs that can help you practice good posture.
PC gamers might also want to invest in a Sit Stand Desk. Sit Stand Desks are becoming increasingly popular for people that spend a lot of time at a computer. These desks allow you to adjust the height of the desk so that you can easily move from sitting to standing. Standing up every so often while gaming will help you stretch those back muscles.
As you can see, staying healthy while gaming doesn’t mean you have to spend long hours at the gym. If you’re trying to actively lose weight, you need to incorporate cardio into your daily routine. But if your main goal is to maintain your current weight and keep your muscles from growing stiff while playing, the above tips should help.