Gaming is a sedentary activity. Though it’s excellent for improving things like hand-eye coordination and decision-making skills, it still requires you to sit for long periods. That increases one’s chances of developing chronic health conditions—and potentially becoming overweight or obese.
This effect is especially apparent in professional e-sports players. Research shows that they have significantly more body fat than non-e-sports players, making them more likely to hit a body mass index (BMI) of 25 and above which denotes overweight or obesity. Unfortunately, this can do more than impact your health—it can also negatively affect your gaming performance.
Want to learn more about how a higher BMI can affect how you play e-sports? Keep reading below:
How a higher BMI can worsen e-sports performance
It makes you lose more games
E-sports is a competitive activity, which is why so much emphasis is placed on winning. Unfortunately, a study on obesity and individual performance in e-sports revealed that gamers with higher BMIs performed more poorly than those with normal BMIs during short gaming sessions. Researchers also found that e-sports players with a high BMI did worse in live tournaments due to the social pressure and negative attitudes they received from spectators, which distracted them from playing more effectively. All this can diminish your chances of winning, especially when playing games with time limits and participating in competitions.
It can increase your risk of mobility conditions
Despite being an indoor and mostly sedentary activity, e-sports gaming can cause certain mobility issues. You’re primarily at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) due to gripping mice and sitting in the same position for long hours, which can strain your wrists. Being overweight or obese can exacerbate CTS by causing further bodily inflammation. Excess fat or tissue can place more pressure on your carpal tunnel and cause it to narrow further. Since CTS affects your thumb, index, and middle fingers—which you most commonly use to control gameplay—is painful and takes months to heal, this condition, combined with a high BMI, can negatively impact how you play.
It puts you at risk for chronic health conditions
A higher BMI is associated with chronic diseases, like hypertension, heart disease, and stroke, which can take away from your ability to play in the first place. That’s especially true for games like League of Legends: the Metro News Central article “Heart Rate Test Reveals: Most Stressful Online Games!” found it can increase your heart rate by over 64%. That can worsen conditions like hypertension and put you at a higher risk for strokes. In these cases, your doctor may advise you to stop participating in e-sports altogether.
How to prevent a higher BMI from impacting e-sports performance
Eating the right foods can improve your focus, translating to enhanced gaming performance. According to a study on nutrition in e-sports athletes, those who ate more nutritious foods displayed higher scores on a 3-dimensional multiple objects tracking test. More importantly, healthy eating is crucial for weight management. Starting by simply incorporating more nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables into your meals can help control your appetite, preventing you from overeating. Even effective weight loss programs recommend their participants do this to sustainably stick to these diet changes in the long run. Instead of cutting out the foods you love, incorporating more nutrition into what you already eat can help you play better for longer.
Play more active games
Video games involving movement and exercise can help you burn more calories and work with your diet to lower the impact of a high BMI on e-sports performance. These can be a great way to start working out, especially if you’re not yet ready or don’t have the time to hit the gym. What’s more, the workouts they provide can increase your energy and stamina for longer gaming sessions. Some physically exhausting video games you can try are Wii Sports, Ring Fit Adventure, and Just Dance—one of the titles on the roster of the Olympic Esports Finals.
Get enough sleep
According to the 2021 study “Sleep Characteristics and Mood of Professional Esports Athletes,” training sessions worsen sleep quality among many e-sports gamers. Unfortunately, this can increase your appetite and cravings for high-calorie foods while worsening your metabolism, contributing to a higher BMI. You can avoid this by getting 8 hours of sleep nightly. To start, you can set sleep reminders on your phone or PC and consider removing your gaming setup from your sleeping area so it’s easier to stop gaming before bed.
Weight management can help mitigate the negative impacts of a high BMI on e-sports performance. For more articles on tech, feel free to browse our other pieces here on Techsips.