An estimated 41% of the world population plays video games, leading to an annual revenue of $221.4 billion. While not everyone plays video games on a regular basis, and only 4% are extreme gamers, playing almost 50 hours a week, many may experience negative health outcomes due to this pastime.
To better protect yourself, you should know the potential negative impacts you could experience.
More screen time (video games, watching television, and scrolling social media) has been linked to mindless snacking. This can lead to obesity, as individuals significantly underestimate the amount of food they eat, sometimes by more than 70%.
Another aspect of mindless snacking is food choices. These foods are often high in calories with significantly less nutrients. Due to this, mindless snacking leads individuals to not being satiated.
To help combat this dilemma, choose more nutrient-dense snacks; think fruits and vegetables. Additionally, choose snacks that are separated into bags that are smaller serving sizes. This not only creates another barrier to consuming the snack but gives you a physical cue of how much you are eating.
An estimated 5-12% of adults struggle with TMJ (temporomandibular joint). While twice as many women struggle with this pain, gamers have found that they experience the signs and symptoms of TMJ as well. During an intense video game, individuals may clench their jaws more.
One of the best ways to help mediate the pain of TMJ is to meet with a periodontist that specializes in treating TMJ. They will assess the best way to treat your condition. This might include anti-inflammatory medications, mouthguards, physical therapy, botox, or even surgery, depending on the severity of your condition.
Many gamers have reported headaches. This can result from many factors in the gaming experience, including poor lighting, eyestrain, motion sickness, lack of sleep, poor hydration, poor posture, lack of sunlight, and limited exercise.
Some of the best ways to combat these headache triggers is to schedule breaks throughout gaming. If you take fifteen-minute breaks every 45 minutes, focusing on counteracting these triggers, you will significantly reduce your chances of developing headaches.
Tech Neck/Upper Cross Syndrome
Tech neck, or upper cross syndrome, is what happens when a muscle imbalance occurs due to a weakening of your upper back. This weakening results in a lengthening and hunching of the upper spine, resulting in a protruding neck and forward-leaning head.
This has been nicknamed “tech neck” due to its association with people leaning forward due to the prolonged use of electronics.
Gamers are more prone to this physical phenomenon because of the sedentary nature of gaming. To help combat this syndrome, there are a variety of physical therapy exercises and lifestyle changes that can be made. In addition to strengthening your posterior chain, you should position your gaming screen at a higher level so you’re not required to look down to play.
Gaming is a worldwide hobby and a pastime for many individuals. Unfortunately, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. By being aware of the negative impact of gaming, you can take measures now to better avoid the physical ramifications of these negative health outcomes.