Some Tips To Stay Fit While Playing Video Games
Have you been playing video games so much that they have almost taken over whole days? Do you have anything better to do other than play these games, eat, drink, and sleep? How about maintaining your fitness? If you are constantly playing games and never want to break off from them to do anything else, I have some tips to get you to stay healthy while the games are still on! This is mostly for those people who do not have/use the Wii Fit or other gaming devices/games meant for exercise.
To begin, we must understand that the stereotypical gamer diet is soda and bags of chips, cheetos, pretzels and various other snacks that are high in simple carbs and complex carbs. These carbs give you lots of energy, so why waste it only on playing a game? This diet, while it may hinder your health and slow your fitness, does not hugely affect the results of this routine. However, I do suggest you start bringing down snacks that are both refreshing and healthy!
Coming up, we will examine the types of pauses within games and what exercises we can do during these pauses. At the end, we'll review the workouts and the gains you should see depending on your activity. All of the following exercises use body weight. If you happen to have weights lying around, by all means, use/incorporate them!
Do NOT over-stretch before exercise. While stretching can prevent injury during exercise, over doing it can make these injuries even worse. 15 - 30 seconds per stretch is enough. If you feel pain during a stretch, stop immediately.
Short Pauses in Games (10-30 seconds)
Every gamer should know or understand what this means. A loading screen. A small, insignificant cut scene. A host migration (darn you Treyarch/Activision!). Within these pauses we are able to do small workouts that won't benefit you immediately but can pump you up and get you going! These also include stretches. Here they are:
- Arm stretches
- Quick jumping jacks
- Planks: These can be in various positions: Push-up position with hands 6 or more inches above your shoulders. Forearms flat on the ground with body in push-up position. Body flat on the ground, arms and legs raised slightly off the ground (also known as the superman position).
- Arm circles: Standing with your arms straight out, begin to make a circular motion with your arms that is small in its radius.
- Leg lifts (knees to chest)
Medium Pauses in Games (31 sec - 2.5 minutes)
These longer pauses are usually somewhat significant cut scenes, dialogue exchanges, waiting for a match to start, and even host migration. During these pauses, a piece of a full routine can be accomplished, no matter how short one or two minutes may seem:
- Sit-ups: 10-100+ sit-ups can be accomplished in this time frame. Of course, you don't have to spend all your time doing just ONE exercise!
- Push-ups: 10-100+ chest 3 - 5 inches from the floor.
- V-Ups: 10-40+ These can be tricky and painful if done incorrectly. Lay flat with your arms raised above your head and legs straight out. Now lift your arms and torso up as well as your legs. Your butt should act almost like a fulcrum. Hold for a second, then release. Picture to the right.
- Squats: 10-50+ Variations include: 1.) Butt 2 - 4 inches from the ground. 2.) Knees bent at a 90 degree angle. 3.) Jumping up after rising from the squatted position.
- Dips: 10-50+Find a sturdy and stable surface to lift yourself up and down with! Do not attempt on a wobbly or weak structure.
Long Pauses in Games (3 - 10+ minutes)
These exercises are for the pauses where a large portion of the story is being told (usually a significant portion too!), introductions to games, credit sequences, and even some cut scenes (I'm looking at YOU Metal Gear Solid 4!) In rare cases, entire sessions can be completed during these pauses (Assassin's Creed III credits anyone?):
- Core Routine: 2 reps of 20 sit-ups. 2 reps of 2 minute planks. 2 reps of 2 minute side planks. 4 reps of 10 side crunches (5 crunches per side). Cut in half, quarter etc... as per time allotted.
- Leg Routine: 2 reps of 3 minute wall-sits. 30 lunges. 2 reps of 10 squats. 2 reps of 10 one-legged squats (total 4 reps, 2 per leg. 10 squats per leg.)
- Arm Routine: 3 reps of 20 push-ups. 3 reps of 3 minute arm circles. 3 reps of 10 dips.
Review and Side-Tips
In conclusion, you shouldn't use cutscenes and loading screen as "breaks" but rather as opportunities to stay active and keep your energy up. Not only does this exercise benefit you physically, but it can pump you up for your game and the next match you may be going into! Instead of wasting time sitting around while a screen loads or while a dialogue is going on (however, listening to the story can be important to you so if you really want to understand the game, don't feel lazy for wanting to hear the dialogue). Be active every second and you should feel the effects of these exercises. A few side notes to take into consideration:
- During a short pause, try beating the clock and running to get some snacks or a drink. It'll get your blood pumping!
- While you play your game you can stand instead of sit and walk around while you play a calm part of it instead of sitting around.
- Be sure you have space to do your exercises as well!
To refresh, we looked at the quick exercises for those short pauses. They included leg and arm stretches, jumping jacks, leg lifts, planks and arm circles. Then we examined what to do during the medium-length pauses, those being push-ups, sit-ups, v-ups, squats, and dips. And then we finally looked at the longer exercises and even routines for those dreadfully long cutscenes and credit sequences. That section included push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, a core routine, a leg routine, and an arm routine (see above for routine details.) So what should you expect to gain from this exercise?
- Be sure you are doing these exercises correctly, otherwise you may cause an injury to yourself!
- If you want bigger muscle gains, exercise at least 5 days a week and get a good daily supply of protein. (Personally, I eat my weight in grams of protein each day I exercise. Ex: 120 lbs = 120 grams of protein.)
- If you are too tired to continue exercising, take a break! Don't overexert yourself.
- If you can't do the amount of exercise posted above, cut it in half, quarters, fifths, sixths and so on depending on your ability.
If you were to do these exercises every single day you played games you should actually see a small gain in muscle mass depending on the length of the pauses. Do not be fooled and think you'll become jacked doing this, because unless your game is more like an interactive movie and you do a routine every day of the week because of it, you won't be. But you shouldn't lose hope and not do it.
While some people don't gain weight when they just sit around and eat snacks all day on a couch, a lot of people do. So if you do, these exercises should help you keep that weight off and maintain a decently fit body. Disclaimer: You should still exercise at least 5 days a week, regardless of if you're playing games or not. Just because you aren't gaming, doesn't mean you should hold off on the exercise!
I hope this article has helped and/or inspired you! Now, go play some games and get fit!