Gamer Resolution: Getting In Shape For 2011
January is the biggest month of the year for new gym memberships, and the #1 resolution - especially in this increasingly unhealthy society - revolves around personal fitness.
And of course, one of the biggest negative stigmas revolving around the gaming community is that those who love the hobby are also out of shape, and rarely see sunlight. And although the Wii and the emergence of PlayStation Move and Microsoft's Kinect will get more gamers off the sofa, this hobby remains a mostly sedentary pastime. Therefore, if you're one of those avid gamers who plan to get in shape in 2011, here are a few tips from someone who takes health quite seriously.
Saying you don't have time is a lazy cop-out
While I do acknowledge that some people really don't have the time, 99% of anybody who makes this claim is simply making a lame excuse. If you budget your time correctly, anybody who works less than 60 hours a week can find time to exercise during the week. Even 20 minutes could be highly beneficial, especially if you're just starting out. Also, as a sub-rule to this tip, you really won't get far with the "weekend warrior" routine. You'll always be sore because you're not letting your body get accustomed to exercise, and you'll likely just end up with a lot of minor - yet still painful and annoying - injuries. You'll have to make it work during the week.
Fast food isn't food
It isn't. Nobody is really sure what it is and I'm telling you, it's inevitable that over-indulgence will absolutely destroy your insides in a dozen different ways. In all honesty, I would recommend staying away from it entirely. The argument that it's cheap is another cop-out, as none of it is cheaper than a bag of rice or any number of decent things you can pick up at any supermarket. The sheer amount of cholesterol, saturated fat, salt and oh yes, calories, involved in the fast food sh** that has absolutely decimated our country is out of control, and likely even more dangerous than you know. You can get away with it when you're young but I would advise abstaining forever. Seriously.
Weight and abdominal training don't burn calories
Okay, they do, but not anywhere near enough. If you're overweight and you buy one of the trillion ab-building machines, it won't matter if you use it two hours a day. You'll form those abdominal muscles, sure...but they will remain buried and invisible beneath the fat. Even a pretty hefty lifting session won't burn enough calories to matter much if you need to lose weight. It might work the heart, but not for endurance purposes. Therefore, it's best to do both: cardiovascular and strength training. It's harder but unsurprisingly, the hard way is the best way. So for instance, run every other day and on the in-between days, lift. You will also give the relevant muscles 48 hours to rest, which is good.
Side note about weightlifting- Novices should not use free weights if they're alone. Machines are the best way to go; they're designed specifically so novices can't hurt themselves. You need a lot of discipline with free weights, and without proper instruction, you can really hurt yourself.
Cost is rarely a barrier
Eating healthy and exercising is not only for the rich. It's true that those with money tend to be in better shape because they have more time (and cash), and can therefore exercise more and spend more money to get better food. Better food comes in smaller quantities from better restaurants, and typically include good things your body can actually use. But you don't need to eat at the five-star restaurant and have a personal trainer to be healthy. Running is free. A whole lot of cardiovascular stuff is basically free (basketball, soccer, tennis, etc.), and even a relatively expensive gym membership isn't beyond the means of most. You will have to make the good food on your own if you don't want to pay for the prepared versions, but that's a sacrifice you'll have to make.
Gaming and exercising can co-exist
It's actually a lot easier than you think. Say you game for an average of 3 hours a day. Take 1 of those hours away and spend that time bettering yourself...not difficult. Also, when Aristotle extolled the virtues of...well, virtue, he was talking about balance. The middle is where you want to be; i.e., if you spent a few days playing many hours of the latest big game, you can compensate by laying off for a few days and focusing on health. It's best to get into a give-and-take routine with your body, though. Lastly, diets are pointless. You need to change the way you live and it needs to be permanent, and the only way to do it properly is the natural way.
It can take time. You'll get sore. You'll sweat and be uncomfortable. But believe it or not, it won't take long before you'll want to do it, because your body craves it. I feel like crap if I miss a rowing session, and it annoys me when I miss a weightlifting session. You don't have to do what I do (5-6 days a week, about an hour a day). You really don't. Just about any effort, provided it's a continual effort, pays off. :)
1/14/2011 Ben Dutka