Obesity and games. These two are paired together in our culture's consciousness like chips and dip. And, if the countless studies that have connected childhood obesity to television-based activities are true, there's probably something to it.
Of course, it's not the games that make a person fat. Plenty of gamers are lithe and healthy-not least of whom are the many professional athletes who spend much of their off-seasons lounging around with plastic controllers in their paws. It's the playing of games to the point that one has no time to spare for physical activity that leads to obesity.
And, if I'm to be completely honest, that's the category into which I've fit (snugly) over the last few years. My love of gaming combined with my job-which gives me a great excuse to while away plenty of hours in front of screens of all shapes and sizes-has led to a slow but steady increase in my body mass. I now weigh a whopping 82 kilograms-a good 10 to 15 kilos over the ideal weight for a fellow of my age and height.
However, exercise has recently been forced upon me. I'm scheduled for a surgery in March (nothing related to or resulting from my flabbiness-I'll explain more in a later post), and my doctor has suggested that I lose six or seven kilograms prior to going under the knife. That means I have to give over about five hours per week to exercise and associated activities. Five hours that will almost certainly be extracted from my gaming budget.
So, how to get fit and keep gaming? Turns out it's not that hard.
I've managed to find a simple, cheap, and what seems to be highly effective (I've lost two kilograms in two weeks) means of losing weight while still enjoying my hobby: A plain old exercise bike.
I picked one up over the holidays, and I've spent a half hour or more every night pedalling away excess pounds, all while continuing to enjoy interactive entertainments as much as I ever have. The machine can be wheeled in front of the television, is whisper quiet, and requires no hands. It's like it was invented for gamers.
Better still, I've managed to kick the habit of watching the clock. I usually stare at the digital display of whichever cardiovascular machine on which I happen to find myself, desperately waiting for the timer to climb to the 30-minute mark. Now I often find myself lost in the game and end up pedalling for 10 or 15 minutes longer, burning off an extra 70 or 80 calories in the process. Turns out gaming actually makes me a better exerciser. How awesome is that?
What's the point of this post? I suppose it's simply to say that I wish I'd thought of this before. I've always felt a bit ashamed about being a stereotypically out-of-shape gamer, and I've wondered more than once whether my hobby would end up being the death of me. Hopefully, I've managed to turn over a new leaf-and without even having to make any sacrifices in my favourite leisure activity, to boot.