Healthy Console, Healthy You: Balancing Your Personal and Your Gaming System’s Health
It might seem like video games have always been popular, but the time people spend playing them consistently continues to rise. More than half of American homes have a gaming console, and about 76% of Americans have spent some time playing video games this year.
Some people play casually, only picking up a controller once in a while or using gaming as a way to unwind and relax with friends on the weekend.
Other people are avid gamers and can spend hours each week enjoying everything from RPGs to multi-player online options.
If that’s the case for you, know that there are plenty of benefits to playing video games. However, there are also some potential drawbacks to be aware of when it comes to your health. Gaming puts a lot of stress on your body, and it can also put a lot of stress on your computer or console.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to prioritize your overall well-being, as well as your system’s. By taking care of yourself and your console or computer, you can keep gaming for years to come and enjoy every second.
Avoid Eye Strain
One of the biggest risks of playing video games often is how it can damage your eyes. Digital eye strain can cause your eyes to dry out and can cause the muscles that make your eyes focus to work twice as hard. If you frequently experience headaches or your eyes “burn,” it could be from staring at a screen for too long. Sitting in front of a screen all day can also cause problems like blurriness and can even contribute to neck and shoulder pain.
If you want to protect your eyes while playing games, try some of the following solutions.
- Take frequent breaks (every 20 minutes)
- Use eye drops or artificial tears to relieve dryness
- Minimize glare with overhead lighting
- Stay an arm’s distance away from the screen
In addition to these best practices while gaming, it’s just as crucial to focus on your overall health to strengthen your eyes (and the rest of your body). Preventative healthcare for your eyes includes things like regularly checking for vision degeneration, addressing blurriness or spots in your vision right away, and tracking the health of your eyes over time with regular visits to the doctor.
Live an Active Lifestyle
Gamers are often stereotyped as lazy and sedentary. Studies have shown that this isn’t necessarily an accurate depiction. However, it’s hard to argue that most games do require you to spend quite a bit of time in one position. If you get caught up in your gameplay, you might not move much for hours at a time.
You can combat the effects of your sedentary state by living an active lifestyle and focusing on fitness and nutrition when you’re not gaming.
Exercise is important for everyone, but it’s especially helpful to combat the effects of long-term sitting. Regular workouts can
- Make it easier to manage your weight
- Reduce the risk of heart and vein disease
- Improve blood pressure
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve stamina
From a mental health standpoint, exercise also helps to reduce stress and boost your mood. You’ll have more energy after a good workout, especially if you follow it up with a healthy, protein-rich meal (try to avoid the stereotypical gamer diet, if possible!).
Anywhere from 30-60 minutes of exercise each day will not only help you to stay in shape but can ward off the effects of being sedentary for too long. After a long workout, sit down and enjoy your favorite game – you’ve earned it!
Maintain the Health of Your System
Focusing on your own health and well-being should always be your top priority. However, if you’re a frequent gamer, it can often feel just as necessary to maintain the health of your system or console.
While gaming doesn’t damage computers in any way, the wear and tear can cause your system to slow down over time. It’s easy for computers to overheat, and hardware deteriorates over the years.
You can do your part to take care of your system by regularly cleaning it. If you use a computer for gaming, regularly shake debris loose, and use a can of air to get between the keys. Using a cotton swab with alcohol will disinfect the keys and the spaces in between.
Aside from regular cleanings, a good rule of thumb is to give your system a break, especially if it’s prone to heating up quickly. Things like cooling fans can help, but the best thing you can do to increase the life of your computer is to walk away for a while and let it cool down naturally.
While the “gamer stereotypes” might never leave, it’s important to fight back against them for the sake of your well-being. Take care of your mind, body, and even your system to be a healthy gamer, so you can enjoy the benefits without compromising what’s most important.