Healthy Gaming for Teens

Oftentimes there can be a lack of motivation in adolescents and teens to do physical exercise and eat healthy foods.  And at the same time we are witnessing a worldwide obesity epidemic. Parents who are trying to motivate and encourage healthy habits may feel like this is an uphill battle. We all know as parents how hard it is to watch our kids spend endless hours enjoying a sedentary activity like gaming, knowing that they are missing out on the health benefits of physical exercise. This is why it’s so important for parents to guide their teen gamers and help them understand that in order to perform better at their game, they need to improve their basic health metrics such as sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Gains and losses in performance can come from simple things like lack of sleep. Studies have shown that a disruption in sleep patterns can cause a 15% decrease in attention. So how can we help our teens improve their health as well as improve their gaming performance? At FITGMR, we have found that both goals can be achieved simultaneously. The FITGMR app allows your teen gamer to track their progress in the FITGMR 5 pillars of health with the metrics module that gives them the ability to gain insights and develop new habits and behaviors designed to improve in-game performance and their health. 

The FITGMR app can be used with wearable technologies such as FITBIT and the Apple Watch to seamlessly track and measure the 5 pillars of health as well as producing a game readiness score.  We have found that the FITGMR app has increased the motivation of many teen gamers, all the while promoting healthy habits. Simply put…It’s a WIN WIN!

Nutrition

Esports athletes nutritional requirements are no different than athletes in traditional sports. Your body needs the right foods in order to maintain the highest level of focus and effort. Both traditional sports and esports require proper nutrition for sustained energy and focus. The difference between them is simply the amount of healthy food. The first step in making a good choice;  Choose real foods over processed foods for every meal. This easy choice nearly eliminates refined sugars from any diet. By sticking with “real foods” it’s easy to avoid the pitfalls of calorie counting, portion sizes and confusing diet plans. Our role is to help cognitive athletes make these healthy choices.They will feel better, want to be more active, and become healthier. The greatest impact we can potentially make, is to start cognitive athletes on a path of choosing wisely.

Sleep

Sleep is of vital importance to ALL teens. Many teens game late into the night. Studies have shown that gaming before bed can contribute to a variety of sleep problems, including poor quality sleep and not enough sleep. Sleep is as important to our health as a healthy diet and regular physical activity. It affects our energy level, mood, performance and quality of life. As a general rule, falling asleep easily, feeling refreshed within an hour of waking up, sleeping through the night, and functioning without difficulty throughout the day are signs that you are getting adequate sleep. Adequate sleep, however, may not be sufficient when performing in a competitive space. The demands on gamers is greater than the average person, and therefore monitoring and optimizing sleep is essential for peak performance.

Exercise

Physical exercise outside of sports or gaming is critical for teens to maintain correct posture as well as maintaining a life with a much lower risk of injuries. Any type of exercise results in an immediate improvement in your overall health and wellness which is directly related to your concentration levels. There are a plethora of studies that show physical fitness can help improve mental fitness and this is evident in competitive esport competition. Both cardiovascular exercises and strength training can also help release endorphins. Endorphins can help with reducing stress levels, improve self esteem and also boost overall happiness. 

Mental Health

Research shows that video games may help reduce anxiety in youth. Other studies show that gaming has the potential to alleviate depression and anxiety. Motivations behind video gaming vary depending on the teen.  Research shows that games allow teenagers to escape their problems, try on different personalities, socialize, and to engage in challenging and reward-based experiences. Many teens  enjoy sports both virtual and physical. Teens that have been playing traditional sports will gravitate towards gaming because it offers them a place where competition is fun and rewarding. 

Social and Emotional Benefits

Teens can learn prosocial behaviors, such as helping, sharing, and cooperating, by playing video games that include social activity. Teens can also increase their ability to cooperate, share, and maintain positive relationships with others outside of gaming. Many programs like Garden State Esports in New Jersey, are building a healthy community of gamers along with the help of FITGMR. They offer curriculums for schools and are committed to initiatives that support diversity, inclusion, positive mental health and STEM learning for all. 

Sources:

https://share.upmc.com/2021/11/nutrition-for-gamers/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleep-newzzz/202108/5-things-adult-gamers-should-know-about-their-sleep

https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Pages/default.aspx?PAPNotFound=true

https://news.microsoft.com/features/mind-games-how-gaming-can-play-a-positive-role-in-mental-health/

Author Matt Powell

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