Gaming is an interesting and fun hobby; you assume a different identity and live out fantastical scenarios that would otherwise be unfeasible because, honestly, you get winded after running for 15 continuous seconds. Here enlaces the caveat of gaming: even though you might be running up the side of buildings and athletically jumping motes, gaps and mushrooms in the virtual world, in the real one, however, your ass is getting fat. So, how do you become the sculpted superhuman that your onscreen avatar is? Well, you go to the gym four hours a day and spend the rest of the day killing bad guys. Let’s start simple: this how to get relatively fit while killing zombies/aliens/enemy soldiers.
In-Game Benefits of Exercise
So, as a gamer myself, I was happy to find that exercise can actually have applicable benefits on the virtual battlefield. Thirty minutes of cardio can have noticeable in-game benefits as it increases blood flow and happy hormones to the brain. It’s like getting a power-up or a perk for your brain. You might not be able to shoot lasers out of your eyes, but the increased blood flow spiked with feel-good hormones will facilitate problem solving, decision making, and even memory, and any gamer worth their salt knows exactly how valuable those things are. Some science folks even speculate that exercise helps the brain create new neurological pathways which also boosts brain functions. It increases focus, mental acumens, and speeds up information processing.
Great, How Do I Do It?
Well, there are a few less desirable ways, some medium ways, and then the best ways. Let’s start with the less desirable. This first method would make Ivan Pavlov proud because every time you die in the game, you have to do pushups, jumping jacks or run in place for a defined amount of time. Of course, this will probably condition you to die less often, thus minimizing the health benefits of this method. If that indeed happens (which it never will, noob), increase the time you have to work out. Also, you can do it during load screens, cinematic cut scenes, or pauses. Instead of getting up for some unhealthy snacks, pause your game and get your heart beating.
So, the biggest problem with gaming is that it’s really sedentary, and anything sedentary is extremely detrimental to heart health. How do you get around this then? There are a few affordable solutions to get yourself moving while gaming. One is to set up a treadmill in front of your gaming rig, and when your character runs, you run, too. Another solution is to game while saddled up in a stationary bike, and since you’ll be sweat-ily clenching your controller and not using your hands as support, you’ll even get a nice core workout at the same time. Finally, stay in your seat and get an under desk exercise bike (like this one) set up in front of you, and cycle your way to gaming health. There is even a version that creates electricity, so if you want to make sure you’re not slacking, hook up your console to it and if it dies, that means that you’re not pedaling hard enough.
Although this solution demands a bit more of an investment, it’s definitely the coolest and best way to get active while gaming. Many companies have recently invested in VR technology, which are gaming peripherals that immerse you in the game you’re playing. How do they do it, you ask? It involves a headset which you wear, well, on your head, and sensors in this device allow you to move your head to look around the virtual environment you’re playing in. So, moving your head is something, but if you really want to break a sweat, you’ll need a something a little more… involved. There are circular treadmills which allow you to walk, run or stand to control your on-screen character. There are also enclosed spheres which you step into (allowing for more natural movement, and adding more sensors to control your character with).
Although both of these devices are more adapted for first-person shooters (for the non-gamers: first-person shooter or FPS games are games which you assume the point of view of your character and which only allow you to see the character’s hands and weapon), these peripherals will have your heart beating not only because a zombie just jump-scared you but also because you’ll have to run, physically, to get away from said zombie. If you really want to completely immerse yourself in the game, you can drop another few hundred dollars on a vest which “hits” you when you are shot in the game. It simulates getting shot by a pistol, an Uzi, getting stabbed, and hitting the ground when you fall. The most interesting aspect of this vest is the fact that it was designed as a remote diagnostic tool by a surgeon but then I’m sure he realized how much more important it was to make money. Not unlike the doctors that invented Viagra as a heart medication and promptly realized that sex sells better than the avoidance of death.
The Worst for Last
Generally, when I invite friends over for dinner and drinks, I try to have them leave with a feeling of contentment because of a fun-filled night and pleasant experience from the food I served. But I’m going to break my rule today and leave you with a slightly bitter taste in your mouth, fair fellow gamer. The real way to truly get healthy is to actually exercise. Hit the gym, swim, or ride your bike routinely, and eat healthier (I know how well Doritos, energy drinks and gaming marathons pair, but you are not doing your ass, or your heart, any favors). The positive side of things is that gamers are really adept at single-mindedly pursuing goals for extended periods of times, dealing with frustration from plateauing, and doing something for virtual and not physical achievements. Guess what? Those things help gamers adhere to exercise and personal betterment better than other people… when they actually get their flabby asses to the gym.
Do you have any other fitness tips for the couch adventurer amongst us? Let me know in the comments section below.