It might be hard to believe, but sitting completely still and chugging down energy drinks while staying up till four in the morning playing video games is not healthy. It is incredibly fun, but it wreaks major havoc on your body. Making unhealthy gaming choices a habit can lead to long term health problems including: strained or poor vision, arthritis, obesity, heart disease, and more. 

Finding time to stay healthy and still get enough gaming in might seem hard, but it is possible. You just need to get a bit creative and sacrifice a tiny bit of gaming time, but that could mean being able to live longer and continue to play into your old age.

Your Eyes Need Breaks

Eyes are essential to gaming. If you can’t see the screen, you can’t react, and that means you’ve lost. Yet eyes are often the most abused body part when it comes to gaming. Playing for hours without breaks, staring intently at a screen looking to finish that last quest or get one more kill, is murder on your eyes.

Have you ever played for so long that your eyes are throbbing or they itch? That’s your body telling you that you’re working your eyes too hard. When you look at a screen, you are constantly focusing and refocusing your eyes at specific spots. That repetitive motion puts a real strain on your eyes and can lead to lasting damage if not prevented.

Take the advice given to people who work on computers all day. Play with each games’ settings so it’s easy to see the game, every 20 minutes take a few seconds to look away from the screen, and be willing to take a 5 minute break every hour or so and get away from a screen. That does not mean to simply look at your phone or watch TV — take a break from all screens.

Getting in Exercise, Any Way Possible

Outside of VR motion controls and the Wii, video gaming requires very little motion. This is not good on your heart, body, or weight. You need to get in exercise, which stinks because that’s time not spent playing games. Or is it?

If you’ve got the money for it, you could develop a gaming area that doubles as a gym. You could get a treadmill or exercise bike, team up with a wireless controller, and play games while getting in some cardio. Sure, some games might not be ideal for this, but it might just be the distraction you need to get through a workout. If you are playing a game with extremely long load times or that you die in a lot, you could even get a few jumping jacks or pushups in between playing. Think how ripped you could get if you did ten pushups every time you died in “Dark Souls”?

Other people make a deal with themselves. For every 30 minutes of exercise, they get an hour of gaming. That way, they reward their hard work with something they actually enjoy. 

Another approach is getting games designed to help you work out. Many VR games are great for getting you up and moving, even sweating up a storm. Shooters like “Blasters of the Universe” or “Space Pirate Trainer” force you to move, dodge, and squat, and within minutes get your heart pumping. Other games like “Fastest Fist” make you go through the motions of boxing and fighting, working out your arms and legs. 

Want to work out in the open air? There are plenty of mobile games available to encourage a good run. You could always go for a nice walk with “Pokemon Go” or sprint for your life in “Zombies Run,” which makes it even more believable with headphones making you think a hungry monster is right behind you.

Don’t Sleep When You’re Dead, Sleep Now

Gaming all night is definitely fun, but it’s also a recipe for disaster. Sleep deprivation is a very serious problems among adults, with one out of three people not getting enough sleep. The average person needs seven to nine hours of sleep a night, so even staying up an hour or two later than you should can do serious damage.

While it can be hard to put down, remember that the game will still be there in the morning. If you are going to stay up, try to plan it on a night when you’ll be able to sleep in the next day. 

Another point you need to consider is your caffeine consumption while gaming. Caffeine can heavily impact your sleep patterns, especially if you take some in the evening before bed. It takes about five to six hours for half the caffeine you consume to leave your body, meaning if you drink an energy drink at 5 pm, half of it will still be in the body at 10 pm. The remaining amount could make falling asleep much harder, meaning less sleep. Pound a Redbull at midnight, and you might not be able to sleep even at 6 am. 

Your Health Comes First

It’s tempting to let your health fall apart in order to full dedicate your free time to gaming, but don’t. Keep your body healthy and your body will make sure you can play games for a long time. Do things like exercise, get enough sleep, and take care of your eyes and your body will thank you for it.