While pro athletes in traditional sports are generally required to maintain peak physical condition and run the risk of experiencing a career-ending injury, when it comes to pro gamers, things are a bit different. With the hours of playing required to attain a competitive edge, esports definitely have an effect on the body and mind. Although pro gamers may not run the same risk of injury as their counterparts in traditional sports, that doesn’t mean that esports don’t also take their toll on pro gamers’ bodies.
At this point, it’s commonly understood that a consistent sedentary lifestyle has negative health effects on the body. Numerous studies have been conducted on the ways in which the health of office workers suffer from their sitting in front of their computers from 9-5, five days a week. One can easily see how the same would apply to gamers. While the setting may not be the same, exchanging a cubicle for a gaming set-up doesn’t change the effect on the body.
An article from The Bridge notes that pro gamers run increased risks of “lack of socialisation, depression or isolation […] Obesity, lack of sleep and decreased exposure to outdoor environments can have many negative factors such as the body being unable to handle the weight, excessive stress on joints, fatigue, lack of energy and focus.” While obviously, these aren’t ideal circumstances for the human body these health issues can also serve as a professional obstacle for medical practitioners. Considering the prevalent use of performance-enhancing drugs such as adderall to combat fatigue and lack of focus, it’s easy to see the ways in which unhealthy effects can lead to further unhealthy behavior.
Maintaining a healthy balance of physical activity isn’t easy even under the most mundane circumstances. For a pro gamer, whose success in their field requires they spend hours in front of a screen, finding the time or motivation to pursue and maintain important physical health practices is sure to be even more difficult. In an effort to curb this, a number of streamers have started to share their physical fitness regimes. More than just improving their health, these streamers and other pros note that maintaining their physical health also gives them a competitive edge, especially when it comes to things like reaction time.
In fact, in order to encourage maintaining such competitive edges, The Bridge also reports that international teams have organized bootcamps, gym access, mental health facilities, and nutritionists for their pro gamers. These sorts of resources may not be an option for all gamers, but that doesn’t mean the cause is hopeless.
For pro gamers and recreational gamers alike, there are a number of adjustments that can be made—aside from developing personal exercise and diet plans—to mitigate the potential negative health effects of excessive screen time. An article posted on Darebee.com provides a number of suggestions for making gaming time healthier. From doing quick exercises between respawns and reloads to avoiding snacking during gaming sessions, small tips can have a surprisingly significant impact on a gamer’s health. At the very least, standing up while playing, potentially using a standing desk for a gaming setup, is a healthier alternative to spending hours reclining during a gaming session.
Ergonomic controllers, mice, and keyboards have long become standard issue for gamers and office workers alike, all in the effort to avoid serious injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Gaming is not without its potential adverse health effects, and as the industry continues to develop, the health of all players—professional and otherwise—should be taken into account.