Improve Your Gaming Performance with Exercise

It’s well known that exercise provides a multitude of benefits to the physical, psychological and social wellbeing of an individual. Whether exercise is carried out through sport, at the gym, outdoor activities or even at home, elevating your heart rate and getting the body moving is an essential part of living a healthy lifestyle. 

Conventional benefits aside, what if I told you that regular, structured exercise could improve your gaming performance, and prevent injuries or ailments that come as a result of prolonged gaming time?

Gamers in the aggregate have a poor relationship with exercise, mostly due to the sedentary nature of the activity. However, this stereotype is somewhat broken when looking at professional Esports players. Pro-gamers are starting to incorporate exercise into their daily routines because of the numerous physiological and psychological benefits that can improve performance, such as: 

  • Improved posture

  • Increased muscle mass

  • Prevention of Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)

  • Prevention of physiological conditions e.g. Type-2 Diabetes

  • Increased energy levels

  • Increased self-confidence

  • Reduced stress

  • Reduced mental health issues e.g. Depression

  • Elevated mood

  • Improved cognitive functioning

Cognitive functioning refers to multiple mental abilities; including learning, thinking, reasoning, remembering, problem solving, decision-making and attention. All of these factors contribute to in-game performance. By implementing an exercise regime, you could see an improvement in your personal performance, and skyrocket your rank and MMR! 

Public Health England recommends at least 150 minutes of exercise per week (that’s only 4 Counter-Strike games per week!) involving a combination of aerobic exercise (e.g. jogging, cycling, swimming) and full-body resistance training (e.g. free weights, resistance machines, bands). 

Specifically, postural retraining focuses on exercises that target your core, shoulders and back muscles. If you feel like your posture may be inadequate, and you find sitting down for long periods at your desk uncomfortable, this would be a good place to start. Improving your posture can reduce and prevent RSIs from occurring, while increasing your overall physical wellbeing. 

Additionally, breaking up sedentary time with exercise or active rest periods has also been shown to improve physical wellbeing. While standing up from your desk and walking around has been recommended to prevent the negative effects of prolonged sitting. Calisthenics (bodyweight movements such as squats) are considered the most effective form of energy expenditure. These can be done anywhere, require little space, and no equipment is necessary. 

In my opinion, implementing moderate aerobic exercise (outside if you’re able to) and a routine of calisthenic exercises is the best place to start if you’re looking to add exercise into your daily lifestyle. Once you become more comfortable and confident with exercise, seeking out a sporting club, activity centre or gym would be the next step. If you’re looking for information and advice along your exercise pathway, researching online using reliable sources and seeking help from accredited professionals will facilitate you utilising your time effectively, and exercising as efficiently and safely as possible. 

So start working those muscles, and flex on your opponents in-game! 

Sources: Public Health England. Tulder, Malmiraara & Koes (2007). Carter, Jones & Gladwell (2015). Pirries & Lodewky (2012).