Wait a minute, you’re telling me that a strict diet of Mountain Dew and Doritos; is not helping my gaming? Who would’ve thought, right? As it turns out, not only is junk food and tons of caffeine not great everyday choices, but it’s even stifling how well you play. Is this just the media trying to trick us into being healthier? Maybe it’s a mass conspiracy of gym managers and nutritionists trying to hop on the next big thing.
I’m afraid not, there’s been a bunch of studies going into how much of a toll our body and mind takes by playing video games competitively. If you want to be at your best, you’re going to have to stay healthy. We’re going to take a look at a study of eSports athletes by scientists at a German university, led by Professor Ingo Froböse, an expert in prevention and rehabilitation at the German Sports University in Cologne and how we can benefit from being a bit healthier when playing games competitively.
“We were particularly impressed by both the demands placed on the motor skills and their capabilities,” said Froböse. “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,” he added.
Whether we realize it or not, our body is going through a lot. 400 movements per minute sounds absolutely insane and it really is! Not to mention the toll its taking on our brains to process everything we are doing; working out strategies, talking to teammates and demanding the physical aspect of our bodies all at the same time. This is where taking breaks and realizing how much stress we are putting our body through comes in. Have you ever played way too late into the night and started to just get terrible due to lack of sleep and fatigue? That’s exactly what’s going on and it’s affecting us far before sleep deprivation kicks in.
If we don’t take breaks and consider the toll it’s taking on us, we will not be able to keep our attention where we want it. Our hand eye coordination will suffer. Awareness? Forget about it. Our brains are what we use most in competitive gaming and it will show if we don’t keep it well rested. What should we take from this? Sleep, rest, take breaks to keep yourself at your best because the longer you go playing without giving your mind a rest, the worse you will perform in the long run. So get up, stretch a little, grab a snack and some water. Keep your mind fresh and well rested so you can constantly be playing at your best.
“The amount of cortisol produced is about the same level as that of a race-car driver,” Froböse said. “This is combined with a high pulse, sometimes as high as 160 to 180 beats per minute, which is equivalent to what happened during a very fast run, almost a marathon. That’s not to mention the motor skills involved. So in my opinion, eSports are just as demanding as most other types of sports, if not more demanding,” he said.
Just as demanding as other sports, if not more so. That really gives some perspective on how important it is that we stay healthy and well rested when competing. Look at how healthy athletes have to train to be their best on the field and we are putting our bodies through just as demanding situations as they are. Sure, we don’t need to dead lift 400lbs or be able to run 10 miles in order to stay competitive. But we have our own specific areas that we use a lot when playing.
Our shoulders, our hands and wrists, our neck and the toll that it takes on our bodies to be sitting constantly. These are all the obvious physical strains our bodies go through when playing and we need to make sure we’re keeping our body healthy. A lot of eSports players have started working out regularly and getting into shape to improve their game but if you don’t quite want to take it that far then at least stretch, take breaks consistently and adopt a small work out of 15-30 minutes every day. Do some push-ups, sit-ups and use a jump rope to keep up your cardio. This is the least you should do to keep your body and mind fresh.
We are producing as much cortisol as a race-car driver and push our bpm through the roof; reaching 160 to 180 beats per minute. This is very straining on you and working on some cardio each day will help a ton.
“What isn’t happening is cycling the stress, in other words, building in breaks after periods of strain so that the athlete can recover and overcome fatigue during competition,” Froböse said. “Another factor is getting the right nutrition.” An eSports athlete’s diet should be similar to that of other competitive athletes, including added nutrients such as ginseng, which increases circulation in the brain.
According to Froböse we should be getting the same nutrients as other competitive athletes since our body and mind is going through the same if not more demand. Sure, we don’t have to maintain a large weight to physically tackle our opponents or anything but eating healthy will help every part of our body, especially our brain. Ginseng was cited as one of the more important nutrients we should be taking since it increases brain circulation. As a rule of thumb, if it helps your brain than it’s going to help us. As we stated before, it’s by far the most important part of our gameplay and if we want to stay alert and react fast when we need to, we can to keep our brain healthy and circulating at its best.
No more Mountain Dew or energy drinks and put the Doritos back in the cupboard. Instead trade them in for healthier options and above all else, water. Keep yourself well hydrated and make sure you’re getting the nutrients needed to keep you alert. Energy drinks and sugar are just going to make you crash and give you unstable spurts of attention and energy. Junk food just doesn’t help anything, no good nutrients and your controller will thank you when it doesn’t turn orange.
There you have it folks, plenty of research and proof that we are putting out just as much demand as other athletes in much more physically demanding sports. We’re also pushing out Cortisol like a race-car driver and raising our pulse to marathon running standards, all while sitting there. In my opinion, this makes our health even more important. At least in physical sports you are constantly using most of your body and getting in better shape just by playing. But for competitive gaming we are sitting and using very specific parts of our body that will take the stress much harder.
We now know that the physical and mental demand is real and substantially more than we could’ve imagined. So let’s start doing something about it and keep our health in check while crush the competition, or get crushed…either way we can be healthy about it, right? What do you guys do to keep yourself healthy while gaming? Work out regularly? Go for runs? What’s your go to snack and how will this change based on everything we know now? Leave a comment and let me know so I can steal all of your healthy ideas.