The older generation still seems to be avidly against the idea of video games. They believe that staring at a screen for hours a day is bad for your health. You know what, they’re kind of right. While gaming can be good for your health – especially mentally – it can also be very bad for you.
Well, to be more specific, the typical way of gaming can be pretty bad for your health! There are things you can do and little changes you can make that will allow for a healthier gaming experience. You’ll see a few of these ideas in today’s post, but we’ll start by discussing why gaming can sometimes be unhealthy.
The health problems associated with gaming
Yes, gaming can certainly improve many aspects of your health. It can put you in a mentally sound place as it’s a way of escaping your problems and making new friends. It can also improve your coordination and reactions. Nevertheless, gaming does pose a few common problems:
- Excessive weight gain
- Chronic headaches
- Poor posture
The excessive weight gain comes from sitting down for hours on end. Look at the average streamer, for example, they sit at a desk for 6 or more hours in a row. That’s 6 hours of their day spent basically motionless, meaning you’re inactive. When you have massive gaming sessions, you don’t burn many calories, which means you can put on weight. This is coupled with the fact that you tend to eat lots of sugary and fatty snacks, adding to your calorie consumption for the day.
Next, headaches come from staring at a screen for too long. It leads to eye strain, which eventually causes tension headaches. But, it can also stem from neck pain due to poor posture. Your posture gets bad when you game because you tend to be hunched over at a desk.
As you can see, it’s very easy for gaming to be detrimental to your health. How can you ensure that you don’t have to worry about these health problems? It’s simple, follow the tips down below:
Don’t stay seated for too long!
Firstly, make sure you get up and move around a bit! Even if you’re up and about for a few minutes, it breaks up the cycle of staying stationary for too long. A good rule of thumb is to stand up every 30-60 minutes and move your body. You could stand up and do some stretches for your posture, or you could walk up and down the stairs a few times to feel more active. Even simply walking to the kitchen for a glass of water counts as being active. You want to avoid situations where you have literally not left the same spot for hours.
This helps you burn more calories, which can prevent extra weight gain. However, it’s also useful in dealing with poor posture. When you stay in a fixed position for too long, your body remembers it. So, even when you stand up after your gaming session, the muscles and joints in your body want to stay in the same position. This is why loads of avid gamers walk around with rounded shoulders and a forward head. Standing up breaks the mold and is even more effective when combined with posture stretches and exercises. There are a few in the video below that you can do while you game:
Avoid sugary energy drinks
Energy drinks are a firm favorite of gamers around the world. You probably have an endless supply of Red Bull or Monster Energy, ready to supply you with a boost while you game. For years, this was seen as a normal thing to do, with the energy drinks helping you focus on your games. Unfortunately, they also contribute to two of the main health issues mentioned in the beginning: weight gain and insomnia.
You see, an energy drink contains outrageous amounts of sugar, which is awful for your health. Apart from damaging your teeth, sugar contains loads of calories, so energy drinks are basically a nice little potion to make you fat! Thankfully, the industry seems to have realized this, and you have brands producing drinks that contain no sugar and are designed to be healthier. If you need an energy boost, drinks like this are much better for you, or you could have a cup of coffee.
However, all energy drinks and caffeine-filled drinks can contribute to insomnia. The caffeine in them will keep you awake for hours, making it hard to go to sleep. Thankfully, the solution to this is simple: cut down on your caffeine intake. Limit yourself to one or two caffeinated beverages a day, preferably way before you plan on sleeping. If you drink caffeine at night, don’t be surprised when you lie away until the morning!
Keep healthy snacks near you
The urge to snack is very strong when you’re in the middle of a hardcore gaming session. Sadly, you tend to turn to unhealthy food to satisfy your cravings. As mentioned before, this only adds to the problem of gaming making you gain weight. Still, it can easily be sorted out by swapping the unhealthy snacks for healthy versions.
Have some fruit nearby, or maybe some carrot/celery sticks to nibble on. Instead of normal chips, get some lentil ones that are far healthier and contain much less fat. You can find all sorts of healthy snacks by doing a bit of online research, so there isn’t really an excuse! If healthy things are nearby, you’re going to eat them. Get rid of the unhealthy snacks in your home, and you can no longer give in to your cravings.
Wear some blue light glasses and keep your distance from the screen
This point will directly address the issue of chronic gaming headaches. Honestly, there are loads of reasons you develop headaches while gaming, but screentime is the biggest culprit. It’s common knowledge that the blue light from screens is bad for you. It hurts your eyes, damages your vision, and causes headaches. There are two different – yet equally simple – things you can do to handle this.
To start, adjust your gaming setup so the screen isn’t too close to your face. The close it is to your eyes, the more damage it will do. Move it a decent way back, making sure you can still see everything perfectly. Secondly, get a pair of blue light glasses to wear while you game. Effectively, these glasses have special lenses that protect your eyes from the blue light shining at them. In turn, this can prevent eye strain, stopping your headaches from forming.
Get an ergonomic setup
Gamers have the worst posture because their setups are awful. You probably have a terrible chair and everything is positioned to make you slouch over and lean forward. Realistically, you need to create a more ergonomic setup that gets your body in the right position. This relieves the strain on your muscles and joints, prevents excessive tightness in your chest, shoulders, hips, and back. In turn, this should help to maintain better posture while you game, which will get rid of all the common aches and pains you usually feel.
There’s honestly no way of understating the dangers of having bad posture. It can wreck your health and wellbeing by causing chronic pain and tension. Really bad posture in your upper back – due to rounding of your shoulders – can also cause breathing issues. In short, you should do everything you can to correct your bad posture!
Finally, the number one way to game healthily is to avoid having massive sessions all in one go. If you spend 6 hours gaming per day, it’s much better if you split that up into three 2-hour bursts. Have an hour or so break in between, and it is much better for your overall health. This can stop all of the issues we spoke about in the beginning!
The breaks let you do something active, helping you burn calories and avoid being in a position where you gain weight. It also gives your body a chance to stretch and avoid bad posture, and it also lets your eyes and head rest, preventing headaches. Elongated gaming sessions also tend to cause insomnia because of how long you spent staring at a screen. So, regular breaks can address this as well.
Even if gaming is your profession, you should still look to take breaks throughout the day. It’s the same as an office worker having a break for lunch and at the end of the day. The longer your gaming sessions go on, the more damaging they can be for your health.
If you follow the tips in this guide, you can start gaming without worrying about any health implications. This should help you see the health benefits of gaming without the detrimental effects. The best thing is, you don’t really have to make dramatic changes to your life. These things are all small little alterations that improve your gaming experience.