How the Professionals Stay Fit for Online Gaming

The online gaming industry is growing year on year, with more people than ever before finding their way to screens for competition.

There are many different ways people may take part in online gaming. At the top end of the industry, there are eSports, where events such as the League of Legends championship game got as many viewers globally as the Super Bowl. That’s for top-end competitors, but across Europe, amateur players seek to emulate those performing on streams and broadcasts. It’s widely reported that EA Sports title FIFA 22 has 7.6m players in its Ultimate Team mode, their online competitive feature.

It isn’t just consoles and traditional video games that snatch market share, either. Online poker is a growing phenomenon, and even the top professionals had to turn to online poker during the recent pandemic. NBCSports.com explains how Daniel Negreanu, one of the most famous players in the world, played online when casinos closed. Around the world, Poker.org reveals millions play poker, and they also turned to online providers. The numbers are growing across the whole online gaming industry, but that brings health issues to the fore.

Gamers are often sedentary for long periods, performing repetitive actions with their hands, wrists and arms. There are multiple risks associated with such practices, and elite online gamers have to keep an eye on their fitness, not only to stay sharp but to stave off the threat of poor health. Here, in their own words, or some of the methods they use.

Diet

As with any fitness regime, diet is extremely important, and the likes of Negreanu recognise that. Whilst he isn’t solely an online performer, he spends lots of time sitting and is known to be a keen vegan, considered healthy. Carl Hagberg Flink, who co-manages the Fnatic eSports teams, goes further. “In the future,” he says of diet and nutrition, “you will see the same setup as football clubs have.” That means chefs (which the team already have) focus on low-carb heavy meals. Caesar salad is a known favourite among online gamers.

The links to football clubs have already started; recently, the British eSports Association partnered with West Ham United, whilst other top clubs have their teams competing across various titles. “You have to keep yourself fit and healthy if you are a performer,” says Mike Ellis, the manager of the world’s leading Rocket League team, Team Vitality, which I exactly the same as a professional footballer.

Targeted Exercises

Online gaming brings the risk of certain injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Holding a controller or operating a mouse for many hours is repetitive, and therefore gamers must seek exercises that work to combat their specific risks. “We have wrist trainers, those balls that you spin and move your wrist around to exercise your wrist,” adds Flink. “We also have stretching exercises where elbow and wrist are the parts most focused on.”

Regular Gym Work

Staying fit and healthy isn’t just important for performance; it is vital for longevity. “Longevity is a big issue,” says Nicole Du Came, who runs a fitness Twitch live stream for online gamers. “Even when a player gets to their mid-20s, they’re already getting towards the end of their career. So they’re looking at ways to prolong their career to stay mentally sharp, but also with their reflexes.” That comes with regular gym work, which is as much of a benefit as in every other walk of life. She does personal training too, and the professionals are eager to take her up on it. Fnatic’s Filip “SmX” Liljeström, a top eSports player, spends 6-7 days a week at the gym on their advice, doing dumbbell curls, chest presses, smith machine shoulder presses, and leg presses. He admits he used to worry about fitness as a 198lb performer, but his regime has helped him develop. “I wish I could have gone back and said to myself many years ago that it would be fine,” he says.

If you’re an amateur online gamer without the benefit of a personal trainer, you may glean some positive behaviours from our recent article Exercise Basics – An Introduction to Exercise.

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