December 16, 2021
If you’re a serious gamer, there are few things as exhilarating as a gaming session that stretches deep into the night. While there’s a definite dopamine hit that comes from beating in-game objectives or emerging victorious after a multiplayer match, too much gaming can have a negative impact on your health.
Before you engage in your next marathon session of play, press the pause button and consider whether the amount of time you spend gaming may be causing of any of these five health impacts:
Gaming is an activity that generally doesn’t involve a lot of exercise. If you spend a significant number of hours gaming every day, all that time can result in an inactive lifestyle — and that has serious health implications. When you’re inactive, you burn fewer calories, which can quickly lead to obesity. Your metabolism may slow down, and you may also lose muscle mass. These are all factors in serious diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.
In the midst of an intense gaming session, it's usually easier to grab snacks that are heavy on carbohydrates, fats, or sugar than to have a healthy meal. A microwavable pizza or a bag of chips may seem like a quick, convenient choice, but they’ll only reinforce the same health risks as those caused by sedentary behavior. Likewise, energy drinks marketed towards gamers are high in caffeine, which can disrupt sleep and leave you feeling anxious and dehydrated.
It can be hard to quit when you’re playing late into the night (especially if you’re being fueled by caffeine), but if you need to be at work or school in the morning, you’re cutting down on the amount of time you can rest. Even when you do finally get into bed, screen time reduces the quality of sleep you do get, so the impact of your gaming can linger long into the next day.
Intense gaming sessions can lead to strained eyes; in fact, extended use of digital devices is the leading cause of eye strain. Just two hours of screen time a day can lead to headaches, blurred vision, sore eyes, and difficulty seeing.
No amount of multiplayer games can replace the benefits of in-person social interaction with other people. Even inadvertently isolating yourself through gaming can potentially lead to depression, loss of social skills, and other impacts. Engaging with your social support network is important for building self-esteem, reducing stress, and maintaining your mental health.
If you’re someone who enjoys playing video games, make sure you are taking enough breaks to get outside, exercise, and rejuvenate before taking on that next in-game challenge. Your body and mind will thank you — and you may even see an improvement in your gaming skills!