Video games can have such a strong influence on our lives. Among the compelling stories, we learn to love and laugh while becoming quick with our cognitive reflexes. Although, once you’re committed to a game, healthy habits become almost an afterthought.
Until you notice your back hurts, you’re tired all the time, and you begin to feel like your body can’t keep up, it’s only then that you really start to think about what you can do to help. If you’re an avid gamer, it’s no secret that gaming can take a serious toll on your mental and physical health, which is important for streamers to recognize as well. Thankfully, staying healthy as someone who plays video games for hours on end doesn’t require too much effort. In fact, you can increase your health right in your gaming space.
Gamers at all levels can refuel their health by following these six simple habits all while doing what they love.
1. Remember to Maintain Good Posture
Your posture should be your top priority. It can be easily forgotten as we get comfortable on the couch, or slouch in our chairs as we become absorbed in a video game. By the time you recognize it, you’ve probably already been in an awkward position for too long. If this becomes a habit, you’ll likely notice lower back problems sooner than later in life.
Try to consistently sit up straight with your back against your chair and shoulders back to avoid hunching over. If you don’t have one already, look into adding an ergonomic gaming chair to your setup. They are a great investment to your health as they naturally align your spine. An adjustable sitting and standing desk may also be a good fit for you if you’re a PC gamer. This way, you can stretch out your legs once in a while to avoid sitting for too long. Your monitor position is important as well, make sure it’s adjusted to an appropriate height and angle to your eye level to avoid your neck becoming strained.
2. Include Exercise
Video games pass the time all too quickly, leaving you less time to remember to fit in other hobbies and responsibilities, including your fitness routine. Luckily, there’s desk exercise equipment for people who work or game at their desk all day that allow you to stay active while you sit. This can be as simple as using a foot peddler so you can burn calories while you stay focused on your game. Streamers can even set up incentives for their viewers to donate or subscribe for them to do a certain amount of pushups, sit-ups, jumping jacks; the possibilities for activity are endless. Doing these things simply gets your blood flowing, which is also crucial for your hands. Don’t forget to do some hand exercises every so often by moving them in circles and flexing your fingers. This can help ward off the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
3. Keep Yourself Hydrated and Eat Healthy Food
Water is essential in order for your body to function. If your eyes or joints get sore during a gaming session, you may be experiencing the effects of dehydration. Ensuring you drink plenty of water means you’re less likely to develop migraines, muscle cramps, eye strain, and carpal tunnel. If you usually have a soda or energy drink nearby while you’re playing a video game, be sure to also have water on hand. Replacing these drinks may not be easy at first, but you can try setting a timer to remind yourself to drink water every 15 minutes to get used to it. Your body will thank you for proper hydration with less sugar and caffeine.
When choosing your food, keep in mind things that will give you sufficient nutrition for energy. What you put into your body will reflect how you feel afterward. Rather than grabbing a bag of chips or heating up hot pockets, try meal planning and portioning. Instead of choosing sugary snacks, have protein bars and fresh fruit to munch away at next time. You’ll definitely notice a difference in how much healthier and more energetic you feel.
4. Protect Your Vision
Your time spent gaming isn’t risk-free to many factors of your health; your eyes being one of the main concerns. You only get one set of eyes to take care of. After staring at a computer or TV screen for hours, it’s common for people to experience symptoms of eye strain including blurred vision, dry eyes, and headaches. Take some time every hour to look away from your display and focus on distant objects. Walk over to your window and let your eyes soak in the natural light as well.
Not only that, but gaming with contact lenses, if you wear them, can become uncomfortable after a while. It’s good to keep them hydrated with saline drops before your eyes become dried out and sore. However, many gamers prefer switching to a pair of glasses as this can help you become more immersed in the story. With comfortable eyeglasses, you can find yourself gaming for hours on end and also wearing a headset without distractions. Having this extra filter and layer of protection for your eyes can help significantly with eye strain, which is a common problem for countless gamers. From blue light and clip-on glasses to frame styles that suit your face, there are plenty of glasses combinations to choose from for the next time you’re ready to game. While looking for the right pair for you, you can ensure they fit well for your gaming habits, that the frame won’t take up space in your field of view, and that you’re confident while live streaming. Glasses will help your eye muscles relax, and thankfully, they enhance the colors within the game leaving you with an original, fascinating experience.
5. Take Frequent Breaks
Whether you casually play video games for fun or professionally partake in the activity as an esports gamer or Twitch streamer, always leave room to take breaks. Sitting still for long periods can be tough on your body. Spend a few minutes every couple of hours stretching, walking, or even practicing some light exercise. These small acts can have a huge impact on improving your health. If you’re gaming in a confined space, it is especially important to get some fresh air outside or at the very least open a window.
Not only are breaks good for the body, but they’ll also refresh your mental state enough to get you ready for the next gaming session. While playing video games can improve mental health disorders, gamers also find themselves under a great deal of pressure. Make time to catch up with a friend, take your dog for a walk, or enjoy other hobbies you have as well. This way, you can live a more healthily balanced lifestyle, which in turn promotes better mental health.
6. Stay Balanced with a Sleep Schedule
Sleep plays an important role in our physical health, allowing our body to recharge, and helping us concentrate better during the day. But we know the feeling all too well–just one more game then you’ll head to bed, which is usually never the case and more hours pass by. Many gamers end up in a cycle of insomnia because of this. Plus, the blue light from screens can often trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime, affecting your circadian rhythm and interfering with your ability to fall asleep soundly. It’s best to avoid gaming and screentime for at least one hour before you go to bed, otherwise, it can be difficult for your brain to wind down. Be aware of how much sleep you’re getting and how your gaming habits are affecting your bedtime. People who don’t get enough sleep are prone to weight gain as well. Set a cutoff time for gaming and stick to it so you can be well-rested and ready for more the next day.
It’s easy to get sucked into a game, but it’s essential to prioritize your health. Maintaining good posture, exercising, staying on a good diet, giving your eyes and body a break, along with getting your daily rest are all essential ways to stay healthy as a gamer. Once you beat a boss, complete a dungeon – whatever it must be, make it a fun and rewarding experience as you see your progress. The way you treat your body has a serious impact on how you’ll enjoy gaming, so make it a memorable time in your life to enjoy looking back on.