Not encouraging a healthy and physical lifestyle has always been one of the biggest critiques against the video game industry. Most people view video games as a waste of time and envision kids sitting around all day eating potato chips. I’m happy to report most esports organizers and teams are putting plans in place to help their athletes stay physically fit.
How do you stay healthy while competing in esports? Gamers are encouraged to stand up and move, eat healthier, develop strong mental health, and continue to build supportive relationships. With esports being taken more seriously everyday the overall health of their athletes has become a priority.
The people managing esports teams want their athletes to maintain a healthy lifestyle so they can compete for longer. If athletes don’t build healthy habits, then they’ll end up retiring quickly or not being able to keep up with the competition. I’m a big advocate for healthy living and loved writing this particular blog.
There’s an unfortunate stereotype continuing to plague the esports industry. People think gamers are still living in their parent’s basements and eating Cheetos.
In today’s world, the top esports athletes can’t afford to live this way and they had to adapt to a new lifestyle.
I’ll admit I never lived in my parent’s basement, but I did eat a lot of Cheetos growing up while playing video games.
As technology and science has advanced so has our understanding of what athletes need to perform at their best. And yes, esports gamers should be considered athletes.
While they may not fit the typical stereotype of an athlete; they are still some of the most physically gifted individuals in the world.
Thanks to their reflexes, communication, and endurance skills they have been able to compete in huge tournaments.
The typical definition of an athlete is someone that pushes their bodies to extreme levels while participating in competitions.
If this is your definition of an athlete, then an esports gamer absolutely deserves to be recognized as one.
Strain on the Body
The Scientists at the German Sports University conducted a studied on the physical toll these gamers go through when competing at esports tournament. While it may not look like they’re going through intense physical pressure, their bodies are being pushed to their limits.
To study the physical strain these athletes go through, the Scientists attached heart rate monitors to some of the esports gamers while they competed.
The report also showed the gamer’s heart rates were 160 to 180 beats per minute while they played. This is equivalent to running full speed without stopping.
Professor Ingo Froböse also made this comment in the report:
“We were particularly impressed by both the demands placed on the motor skills and their capabilities,” Froböse said. “The eSports athletes achieve up to 400 movements on the keyboard and the mouse per minute, four times as much as the average person. The whole thing is asymmetrical, because both hands are being moved at the same time and various parts of the brain are also being used at the same time.”
– Martin Schütz, Deutsche Welle
Gamers are having to push themselves and their bodies harder to compensate for this extra strain.
I cannot believe the results and have a much more profound respect for these athletes than ever before.
As we’ve already seen, esports is a worldwide phenomenon meaning the athletes are feeling the pressure to beat the world.
Any athlete with a heart rate this quick needs to have the right conditioning, endurance, and eating habits; otherwise, their bodies cannot continue to compete.
These new habits make the old stereotypical gamer no longer relevant.
Move Your Body
To be a professional gamer, it means you do a lot of sitting. It comes with the career and cannot be avoided.
Even though the industry requires you to sit for extended periods, there’s a lot you can do to push yourself physically.
I understand some of these techniques and tips may not be available to you because of monetary reasons. Please just do what you can and make sure to take care of yourself physically.
The typical age for a professional gamer or an inspiring gamer is between the ages of 13 and 25. This is a very young age and where most people are still developing physically.
DID YOU KNOW?
The average age of professional League of Legends player is 21 years old.
Their bodies are still developing and trying to come into their own. Making it even more critical to get the physical fitness needed.
When I was a young teenager, I needed the physicality of American football to help me develop and build a healthier lifestyle.
It’s so important these young gamers continue stretching their muscles, their bones, as they continue to grow.
It’s recommended that you get at least 30 minutes to an hour of physical exercise a day, but I think you should absolutely strive for more.
This physical exercise doesn’t have to be something that you hate. Find something you’re passionate about and enjoy doing.
Maybe it’s running, hiking, swimming, tennis, or golf. The options are truly endless. At the end of the day, the important thing is to move.
Our bodies aren’t meant to be stationary and static all day. You need to shake the cobwebs out of your head and get up.
You’ll actually be surprised at how much better you perform at your video game after you’ve moved for a while. And you’ll be able to think more clearly.
You’ve probably read articles that talk about esports athletes practicing video games 8 to 12 hours a day. This is a fact and with practicing this long it is critical that you take an active break
An active rest break is where you actually get up and move instead of continuing to sit as you take a break.
It can be as simple as doing push-ups, Jumping Jacks, or crunches.
You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel and perform if you perform a few short exercises while you are resting.
As a professional writer, I do a lot of sitting meaning which mean I have to follow my own advice…TAKE A BREAK!
I take active rest breaks by running on a treadmill or standing and typing for a while to help my brain function better.
I feel less tired and groggy if I’m moving while I’m writing.
The encouraging news is you don’t need an esports coach or team to be physically active while pursuing your gaming dream.
You can stay active in your own home or team house.
You can even help your body while sitting by getting an actual esports gaming chair.
This suggestion will require you to spend a little money. But they’ve made some incredible advances in chair design for professional gamers.
The Chair Institute gives us a good description of the two different styles of gaming chairs.
- The first, designed for PC gaming, resembles a high-backed office chair with a metal frame that’s mounted on casters, and swivels.
- The second is optimized for platform systems (X-Box, Playstation, etc.). These resemble loungers or recliners with sleek, futuristic styling, some of which can be quite low to the floor.
They’ve changed the overall layout of the chairs to keep blood flowing to your legs and arms while also helping to you sit in the proper position.
Having proper blood flow is key to making sure you don’t develop further complications from lack of exercise.
Good posture can significantly improve your breathing, thinking, and your overall health.
Obviously, these chairs aren’t cheap, but if you’re genuinely interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and pursuing an esports career, it doesn’t hurt to do some research into these high tech gaming chairs.
Enhanced Gaming Skills
If I still haven’t sold you yet on the benefits of physical exercise, what if I told you that being physically active actually improves your gaming skills?
If you do some research into the top esports teams today, you’ll quickly notice that most teams are using physical fitness to improve their athletes’ gaming skills.
They are relying on very bright and well-known athletic coaches to design programs that improve gamers reflexes, endurance, and overall health.
Some of the most well-known teams are gaining access to the top training facilities in the world in both California and Texas. They are being trained like top athletes.
The coaches of these esports teams know physical fitness matters just as much as playing the video games.
Athletes like Tom Brady and LeBron James are always working out and staying in top physical shape, so they can continue to compete at a high-end level.
The same principle applies to professional gamers. By staying at a high physical fitness level, they can become better athletes.
If you’ve ever watched an esports tournament or Twitch feed, you’ll quickly notice that the gamers have some of the fastest reflexes you’ve ever seen.
Remember what Professor Ingo Froböse told us in the report by the German Sports University:
“The eSports athletes achieve up to 400 movements on the keyboard and the mouse per minute, four times as much as the average person.”
They are moving so quickly to hit specific keys, move the joystick, or use a certain button to propel them to victory. These microsecond twitches can really make a difference.
By being slightly slower, they expose themselves and their weaknesses to their opponents.
This is why athletic trainers working with esports athletes are always pushing them to process at a higher speed.
They’ll train by having the athletes catch tennis balls or playing cards. Things that require them to move and respond in ways they don’t typically move.
By having faster reflexes, esports athletes can improve their skills behind a keyboard or with a controller.
These quicker reflexes also help their mental ability.
Esports matches happen so fast athletes are having to quickly adjust and make changes without having to stop and think.
Owners and coaches expect their esports athletes to be able to process things and a very high-speed, so they don’t get left behind in tournaments.
Having a sharp memory and processing skills will help you get to the top of your game.
This processing speed was one of my greatest weaknesses as a gamer. I was always a couple of seconds slower than my brother which often led to my defeat.
In addition to quicker reflexes and response times, athletic trainers are helping these young gamers build high endurance.
If you recall the study by the German Sports University and gamer’s heart rate, the only way these athletes can continue to put their bodies through the strain is by having high endurance.
They need to be able to push themselves for a long time without causing severe medical issues.
By improving their endurance, there’s a chance the heart rate won’t reach such high levels because their body is used to the strain.
Endurance training involves a lot of running and other forms of cardio. Coaches want their athletes to be able to perform at a high level for long periods.
So they’ll push them to go further and further in their cardio which will help them in the long run when competing in tournaments.
An often-overlooked portion of healthy living in any sports training is sleep.
Oh, how I love to sleep! I actually could go for a nap right now, but I need to finish this blog 🙂
There have been so many studies conducted showing proper sleep can improve your ability to perform at high levels.
I’m talking about performing well at work, with your family, your relationships, or playing video games. These are all activities that’ll benefit from you having proper sleep habits.
Our bodies need sleep to properly rest and recover from any physical toll we put it through.
Unfortunately, there’s been a misunderstanding in the esports industry that you don’t need sleep to perform in tournaments. Athletes think they’ll need to limit their rest in order to get more time for training.
This is entirely the opposite of what you actually need to be a better gamer. You need to make sure to give your body a solid eight hours of sleep every single day.
By doing this, you’re helping your body recover and function better the next day which will improve your gaming skills.
Without sleep, you’ll quickly notice yourself forgetting things, not responding as swiftly, or being unpleasant to be around which causes friction with your teammates.
Having an energy drink to push through tiredness is not the answer and is not a sustainable lifestyle.
You’ll quickly crash and burn and never achieve your dream of being a professional esports athlete.
Ok, let’s recap!
- You need to have an excellent physical fitness routine in place where you are getting 30 minutes to an hour of physical exercise a day.
- Find some sort of physical activity you love to do.
- Take active brakes while you game.
- Try standing while you play to improve your cognitive skills.
- Physical exercise will also improve your actual gaming skills.
- Develop a high endurance so you can compete during tournaments and have a longer career.
- Get plenty of sleep!
The last point I want to talk about might appear odd, but I think it’s essential.
Young gamers are typically between the ages of 13 to 25. Which means one of their primary concerns is looking good physically.
CHECK IT OUT
How Old Do Kids Need to be to Play Esports?
Being physically active will obviously improve your overall appearance which can help with your confidence.
And having self-confidence can be a huge advantage during tournaments or while you are streaming. You’ll notice a spike in your popularity if you’re confident and looking healthy.
There are so many benefits to being physically fit. Just keep yourself accountable and put a plan in place to make sure you are doing what you need to do.
You’ll be surprised by the results and will hopefully see your esports career continue to move forward.
This was the hardest lesson I had to learn. You’ll never achieve your dream physique without having both a good workout routine and a proper diet.
People often think all they need is a good workout routine to achieve their fitness goals, but that’s only half the battle.
This same struggle is in the esports industry as well. Young gamers need physical exercise as much as they need a proper diet.
Sometimes I wonder if having a proper diet is more of a struggle for gamers then getting physical exercise.
I know I had this same struggle when I was a teenager. All I wanted to do was eat junk food and play video games.
Unfortunately, that mindset has continued for gamers today. They eat whatever is quick and convenient. Any food that can give them a momentary energy boost.
Thankfully, there’s been a lot of research conducted on eating the proper foods.
They no longer need to rely on Cheetos and Skittles to stay awake. Esports athletes can eat nuts, fruits, and some protein bars to maintain their mental and physical edge over the competition.
By maintaining a healthy diet and having the right portions you are helping yourself stay more alert while you compete.
You’ll notice an energy boost and won’t get that general sluggish feeling.
Try eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, healthy fats, and lots of protein to maintain a healthy diet.
Bringing these healthy foods into your diet will especially be important during long tournaments.
Staying Fresh at Tournaments
At most esports tournaments there’s a lot of downtimes. Especially when you’re waiting for your turn to compete. You definitely don’t want to lose your edge while waiting.
It’s really all about maintaining proper sugar levels. By keeping them balanced you’re helping yourself stay focused and alert.
Having an energy drink or soda can quickly throw off your sugar levels. This will cause you to lose focus and make mistakes.
The concept of healthy eating really wasn’t in my life until I met my wife. She was the one that pushed me to eat right and has changed my life since.
What’s your favorite healthy snack?
Proper Mental Health
I believe it’s crucial to discuss having the proper mental health while you are training as an esports athlete.
You may not initially see the connection between mental health and esports, but trust me when I tell you it is absolutely a problem that is being addressed and still needs to be discussed.
Esports athletes are under a lot of pressure. Not only self-imposed pressure but also outside influence from friends, family, and teammates.
There’s a lot of pressure during competitions to perform at very high levels.
This is where having proper mental health can really make a difference. We need to help young esports athletes properly deal with the pressure and anxiety that comes from competing.
Help them see their self worth is not entirely wrapped up in video games, or the gamertags they choose.
Esports athletes need proper mental health in order to handle moments of loss and failure. Without mental preparedness, it extremely difficult to process the loss of a championship.
Yoga has been shown to limit stress and improve mental processes. It can be very beneficial to help prepare for a tournament or handle a painful loss.
According to Verywll Fit:
Yoga doesn’t have to be hard. If you got out of bed this morning and stretched your arms up over your head, you already did a yoga pose. Yoga introduces a mindfulness to stretching so that you pay attention to your alignment and how the positions really feel in your body. Many basic yoga postures feel very familiar, even if it’s been a few years since your last gym class. This sequence of 10 poses look simple but will stretch and strengthen your major muscle groups.
– A Guide to Some Simple Yoga Exercises to Stretch and Strengthen
Another mental health component all athletes need help with is how to process losing.
Unfortunately, poor sportsmanship exists within the esports community. Gamers will occasionally throw controllers or refuse to acknowledge their opponents when they lose.
Do yourself a favor and take 8 minutes out of your day and listen to this TEDx speech presented by the late-great Sean Adams on losing in sports.
We need to help young esports athletes know how to lose with dignity. It’s not only how you play but how you finish that makes a great athlete.
This was something our parents taught us when we were young. My brother and I never liked losing to each other and we had to be continuously reminded to maintain our composure if we lost a game.
Esports is meant to be a community when you can support each other. No one wants to be friends with a sore loser that can’t celebrate other people’s successes.
Poor sportsmanship can also make it difficult when dealing with your teammates if you do not know how to handle these emotions properly.
If you’re an esports athlete you are under enough stress as it is. You don’t need your mental health causing issues as well.
The best thing you can do is to find someone you can confide in and talk to. Someone who understands your feelings and what you’re going through as an esports athlete.
Our last piece of advice on staying healthy while competing in esports can look different for everyone.
For myself, as a family man, I understand the importance of having a strong family relationship outside of work. My family continues to motivate me and push me to be better in my profession.
This is what relationships outside of video games can do for young esports athletes.
Having strong relationships as you pursue your dream is going to be very important. You need people that will keep you accountable, encourage you, and be there for you when you through the ups and downs.
It’s essential you take time to cultivate friendships and relationships outside of video games. These friendships can even be people from within the esports community.
This is the fun part of the esports industry. It’s providing a way for people to connect and share their love and passion for video games.
There are entire conferences and tournaments all over the world uniting people under a shared passion.
CHECK IT OUT
The Gamer Network has a great list of gaming conferences going on throughout the year.
So, I want to encourage you to make time for friends and to not isolate yourself.
There’s a lot of professional gamers that consider their esports team their family. This is a great thing!
Many esports professionals have to leave their homes and their families as they travel the world to follow their dream. This is why these relationships are so meaningful.
Try to connect with your teammates and take these relationships to a deeper level as you all grow.
Who knows maybe you’ll find your ‘player 2’ as you follow your dream and travel the world.
This is why I love my job so much! I get to build websites with my family.
How can I stay accountable with my health? The best thing you can do is to find a teammate, family member, or friend to be an accountability partner. It’s always beneficial to have someone on the outside making sure you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do. It can be fun to have a teammate do training with you so you can experience it together.