If you’re a ‘gamer’, you’ve likely been lumped with the "Dorito-crusted, slouching in their chair, powered by Monster energy" stereotype that seems to get thrown around every time you tell someone you chill with video games. We’ve all been there.
That same stereotype pervades eSports too. Despite many healthy and active professional gamers on the scene, many still believe these players live off junk food and rarely get exercise. However, new research from the German Sport University Cologne presented on February 3, suggests this may be little more than a myth; in fact, eSports players may be healthier than the average person.
"The energy drink is indeed part of the diet for many," says Professor Ingo Froböse, head of the Institute of Movement Therapy and movement-oriented Prevention and Rehabilitation at the University, in a statement. "But overall, eSports players actually eat better than the general population."
The research was part of an ongoing series of surveys on the overall health of eSports players. This was the third annual study and involved a look into the lives of 820 eSports athletes, who were predominantly male, and recorded their eating, drinking, and exercise habits of an average week. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the data was self-reported and online through interviews. Once the interviews concluded, the data was compared to the general population to determine how healthy eSports professionals were in relation to the average person.
The results showed that in contrast to their public perception, eSports players actually consumed less sugar on average than the general population. That isn’t to say gamers don’t love their energy drinks – 40 percent of interviewees said they drink one regularly, likely due to the tight relationship between energy drink manufacturers and eSports teams. However, consumption of sugary drinks was offset by a reduction in sugar elsewhere in their diet.
Next, the researchers took a look at the participants' meat-eating habits and how many vegetables the players ate regularly. Although the players were disproportionately vegan and vegetarian when compared to the rest of the population, just 15 percent of the men and 25 percent of the women got their vegetable and fruit 5-a-day. In contrast, those that ate meat rarely passed up the opportunity, with most of the players eating meat almost every day.
Impressively, the average weekly physical activity of eSports players was higher than the WHO recommendations – on average, the players clocked 9.5 hours of physical activity a week. The study compared this to a report on aerobic activity in Germany from 2017, and the gamers appear to do almost four times the amount of exercise of the highest responding group.
The study carries its own limitations, with the largest being possibility of bias from self-reporting. Surveys such as these generally see many people overestimate their average activity, but they are also the best method of large-scale data collection on health available right now.
As a result of the study, the researchers have made recommendations of increased vegetable consumption and a decrease in energy drink consumption for the players, which would further benefit their health.
It does, however, provide clear evidence that people can partake in eSports and still live a healthy lifestyle – so take care of your health and game away.