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Do more than obliterate your high score with these easy health tips for gamers

by | Sep 19, 2019 | Activity, Nutrition, Prevention

Raise your hand if you understand any of these jokes:

Q: What do you call a Minecraft celebration?
A: A block party.
Q: What does Sonic the Hedgehog use to knock on doors?
A: Knuckles.
Q: Why did Mario cross the road?
A: Because he couldn’t find the warp zone.

Hey, we didn’t say these jokes are FUNNY! If your hand is up there’s a good chance you’re into gaming, as are around 19 million other Canadians. That’s more than half the population!

While gaming has grown up in a big way since the days of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, playing video games can still involve sitting on a chair or couch and staring at a screen for hours. Just like in the workplace, this can mess up your body. That’s where these easy tips for healthy gaming come in:

Drink lots of water

Drinking plenty of water while you blast the bad guys is an easy, no-cost way to feel sharper and more energetic. Pro tip: Knock back a glass every time there’s a break in the action, and refill before you start a new game. Drinking water also fills up your stomach, which makes you feel less hungry. This, in turn, can help you eat less and lose weight. On that note…

Reach for healthier snacks

Swap bags of fatty potato chips for bowls of peanuts, cashews and almonds. Nuts contain healthy fats and way more fibre and nutrients than chips, so you can eat less and stay full for longer. Or throw in a few M&Ms and raisins to turn those nuts into delicious trail mix.

If you’re craving something sweet and tender, a ripe banana stacks up against any baked item — and it even comes with its own packaging! Other fruits, like apples and pears, deliver a naturally sweet crunch.

Take regular breaks

Simply turning away from the screen, even for a few seconds, is good for you. After all, there is growing evidence that links heavy use of electronic devices with mental-health concerns. Use the “20-20-20 rule” as a guideline: for every 20 minutes of screen time, spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 feet away. You know, like the door to the kitchen, where you can refill your water glass and throw down some trail mix. Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?

Stretch it out

Combining screen breaks with some easy stretching adds up to healthy multitasking. Try this made-for-gamers gem, which reduces the risk of lower back pain, and improves the flexibility of your legs and hips:

Step 1:
Sitting on a chair or couch, cross your right foot over your left knee, extending the left leg out a little if necessary.
Step 2:
Keeping your right foot flexed to protect the ankle, straighten your upper body. Then hinge forward at the hips with a flat back.
Step 3:
Hold the stretch for several deep breaths, lengthening the outer hip muscles.
Step 4:
Repeat on the other side.

If you want to kick your stretching up a notch — you know, because it makes you feel so much better — check out these easy options.

If you want to kick your video-game jokes up a notch — you know, because the ones at the top of this post are terrible — check this out:

Q: What’s a toilet’s favourite game?
A: Call of Doodie

Is awful better than terrible? If so, you’re welcome!

Adam Bisby
Adam Bisby

Adam Bisby is a Toronto-based freelance journalist and father of two who has been covering men’s health for more than 20 years. As well as researching and blogging for Don’t Change Much since 2015, Adam’s award-winning work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and National Post newspapers, in magazines such as Explore, Reader’s Digest and Canadian Family, and on websites including MSN and Toronto.com. Visit Adam’s website for more information on what he does.

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