A balanced diet and sufficient exercise are important for health. It's no secret. More people start to realize that fitness is also an essential success factor for gamers and eSportsmen which is why the term "eSports fitness" has become a relevant indicator for success in competitive gaming. It promotes concentration and reaction time, both essential factors for success in both competitive and hobby eSports.
In this article, ISPO.com shows, which health risks are associated with eSports, how to stay fit and healthy despite the high load and with which exercises the performance on the PC and on the console can be optimized.
As in almost every sport where long lasting, repetitive strain is exercised, there are also some characteristic physical complaints in eSports. According to Dr. Thore-Björn Haag, head of sports therapy at the Theresie Orthopaedic Centre, eSportsmen should therefore integrate physical training into their everyday life. This includes targeted strength training as well as coordination, mental or endurance training.
Routines that include warm-ups, but also behaviours such as regular breaks, sufficient sleep and, above all, early action in the event of complaints are useful for maintaining good health.
The training scientist sees the main cause of injuries to eSportsmen in overstraining the tendons, ligaments and muscles in the regions of the hands, elbows, shoulders and back.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: Pain and numbness in the area of the thumb, index and middle finger due to a constriction of the middle arm nerve
- Cubital tunnel syndrome: pain and numbness in the area of the little and ring finger due to compression of the ulnar nerve
- Sciatica syndrome: damage to the nerve fibres of the main nerve of the leg (ichias nerve)
- Mouse elbow or shoulder: Overstraining the tendons in the arms and shoulders
- Gamers thumb: pain in the thumb due to overstraining of the tendons (especially when using controllers)
- Medial epicondylitis: pain on the inside of the elbow and forearm due to inflammation of the tendons that bend the palm of the hand towards the wrist
In addition, there is often back pain, which can affect both the upper and lower back, but also eye and headaches. The reasons for this are the long sitting (in a bent posture) and the static staring at the screen.
Fitness begins with eSports, as with any other sport and in everyday life, with nutrition. The German Society for Nutrition has put together some principles for this. These include the following points:
- Diverse and varied nutrition. This ensures that all required vitamins and nutrients are covered.
- Observe the "5 a day" principle. This means: three portions of vegetables and two portions of fruit a day. One portion corresponds to about a handful. Sliced fruit and vegetables is also an ideal snack during gaming sessions.
- Whole grain instead of white flour products. This satiates longer and contains more nutrients.
- Milk products such as cheese or yoghurt should be eaten daily. Meat only 1-2 times a week and weekly no more than 300 to 600 grams.
- Mainly use vegetable fats, such as rapeseed oil.
- Drink water instead of sweetened drinks. At least 1.5 litres of this. Better still, even more, because sufficient hydrogenation is essential for good concentration.
- Prepare meals gently in order to preserve the nutrients of the food.
Adherence to these basic rules creates the perfect basis for successful eSports fitness. But it is no secret that, in addition to nutrition, sufficient exercise is essential for optimal health. The World Health Organization (WHO) therefore recommends at least 150 minutes of sport per week. eSport professionals also attach great importance to sport and integrate exercise into their everyday life. Kevin Reiser, FIFA professional at FC Nürnberg eSports, told ISPO.com how he keeps fit in his eSports career:
I go to the gym four times a week and also jog now and then. This is very important for me before big competitions. I have a ritual there. I go jogging for an hour before the competition to clear my head, be able to concentrate fully and have full focus. And that is only possible for me by jogging. If I really had to run the whole day through, I would lack creativity. I would also play badly at some point. To be at my best, I need the sport.
eSportsmen benefit from fitness and physical activity for several reasons. It is no secret that a high level of fitness leads to well-being and improved cognitive performance. Managing Director of Digital Fitness OG Felix Wachholz emphasizes that many eSportsmen and gamers are not aware of the fact that their skills can be trained specifically for Out-Game as well as In-Game training. This means that performance in the game can be improved through exercises to improve concentration, perception and coordination. For this purpose, the Digital Fitness manager and trainer recommends the following exercises, among others:
Goal: Increase of concentration under stress, improvement of finger coordination and general endurance
Suitable for: Games with high concentration requirements, but also shooters or simulations
Procedure: With Finger Row, the thumb is tapped successively on the index finger, then on the middle finger, ring finger, little finger. At the beginning, attention should only be paid to avoiding errors. Once the drain is in place, you can then increase the speed or train on both hands simultaneously. To achieve an effect on concentration, the exercise should be performed over a longer period of time, e.g. 3 minutes.
Objective: To improve perception
Suitable for: Shooter with confusing maps, simulations, or hectic MOBAs and other fast games
Procedure: The "Peripheral Chart Board" is a circular arrangement of characters that get bigger and bigger from the inside out. For the exercise the eyes are focused on the point in the middle of the drawing circles. Afterwards, the person tries to read the characters clockwise from the inside to the outside as fast as possible without taking the center out of focus.
Such exercises are not only part for good eSports fitness but also of a neuro-training. Our brain regulates and controls everything in the body. It processes external and internal information with the available knowledge and "creates" a final result from it.
The brain receives the information it needs from the three movement-controlling systems of the body: eyes (visual system), balance (vestibular system) and self-perception in space (proprioceptive system).
According to Pieter Grimm, neuroathletics coach of Ludwig Artzt GmbH, this is where neurotraining comes in. The goal is to find the individual weak points in the body and to activate them specifically with special exercises, such as Peripheral Chart Board Training. These so-called neuro-drills cause an improvement in the absorption and processing of information, a "waking up" of the brain, so to speak.
The final result, such as the reaction time in the game, is thus optimized. The neuroathletics coach notices among other things an improved function of the eyes - through more precise and quick eye jumps to different targets - and a lengthening of the concentration span.
There is a reason why the term "eSports fitness" is more relevant than ever. It's simply because gamers have realized how important it is to combine gaming and fitness in order to improve your performance in eSport. Professional gamers like Kevin Reiser are very good examples why you should consider gamers workout on a regular base.