Whether it’s poker or Pokémon, you don’t typically associate gamers with examples of peak physical fitness. While professional gamers might have sharp minds and fast fingers, the traditional assumption has been that the people who play games for a living don’t need to think too much about running or hitting the gym.
It’s easy to understand why this stereotype has been propagated for so long. After all, playing League of Legends or Lemmings doesn’t involve much physical movement.
But if you spend any time following esports or professional poker, you will notice that the vast majority of competitors are people who clearly take care of their bodies as much as their minds. Why is this, and what sort of steps do professional gamers take in regards to their physical fitness and well-being?
The Benefits of Being Physically Active as a Gamer
Just as athletes in traditional sports need to be at their physical peak because it can help them perform better, esports athletes and professional gamers can also realise similar benefits.
The most obvious benefit is the fact that being in better shape can help reduce the risk of an esports athlete getting injured while they compete. While they may not be prone to pulling a hamstring or getting a concussion, gamers can still suffer from musculoskeletal problems after taking part in long sessions. But by having more muscle, improved circulation, and better posture, they can limit the likelihood of an injury hampering a gaming session.
On top of that, improved health, fitness, and well-being have been linked to improved reaction times, sharper and prolonged focus, and being able to tolerate pressure and stress better.
So, in competitions where the margin between victory and second place is wafer thin, being in shape could make up that difference.
Keeping it Simple
There’s nothing overly complicated about the sorts of things that professional gamers do to stay in shape. It’s mostly just common sense, like eating a balanced diet, moving around to get their heart beating faster, and getting enough sleep.
In poker, coaches often encourage their students to follow the “Holy Trifecta” ahead of a big event. This essentially involves getting 7-8 hours of sleep, ditching junk food, and doing some form of exercise in the 24 hours before competing. They even go as far as arguing that this is more important than studying the day before a tournament since no amount of cramming is going to help you become a materially better player by the following morning.
The most notable thing about that advice is that it is simple. There are no ice baths, fad diets, superfoods, or intense workouts. Instead, it’s just the things that we all know we should be doing anyway to take care of ourselves.
More Than Just the Day Before
While the “Holy Trifecta” is definitely sage advice for last-minute preparation, most professional gamers do a lot more than this.
Professional esports gamers include physical activity in their regular training regime. So while they may spend eight hours a day playing their chosen video game with their team and coaches, they’ll also throw in a few exercises.
For example, Eli “Elk” Gallagher, is a leading Overwatch player who has won major competitions like the Overwatch Contenders A-Tier and the Overwatch Collegiate Championship, as well as placing highly in tournaments like the Overwatch Pacific Championship and the HUE Invitational.
While much of his success comes from being naturally talented at his preferred video game and the tough grinding practice that he relentlessly puts in, he also believes that his physical exercise regime is important.
So much so, that, when he joined the Philadelphia Fusion, he requested that the team’s owner appointed a gym and a dedicated physical trainer to help him and his colleagues.
His exercise programme focuses heavily on stretching as this can help him to avoid common esports injuries to his wrists, neck, and shoulders. Since they are simple to do, he and many other players will do them between gaming sessions to help them stay limbered up and keep their heads in the game.