Where it was once considered a relatively niche hobby and one best kept hidden from family and friends, gaming has since become big business. The games themselves have come a long way from Mario Kart on Nintendo ’64, and gaming fiends are so invested in developing their skills and exploring such sensory video-game experiences that even the tools to do so have changed, with ergonomic chairs and mouse pads ensuring their hands and backs are kept injury-free. But for anyone who still sees gaming as an idle activity that merely sees you barely move, aside from a twitching of the thumbs and the occasional trip to the fridge, think again. A new study suggests that being a gamer can also see you burn fat, too.
According to the study, which was admittedly carried out by an esports platform called Stakester that allows users to win money and prizes by playing video games, male gamers can burn a staggering 420 calories over a two-hour gaming session. To put that into perspective, two hours gaming burns the equivalent of doing 1,000 sit-ups.
According to Tom Fairey, CEO and founder of Stakester, “We all know that competition increases our heart rate and most of us have experienced the ‘gaming sweat’ that happens when you’re searching for a last-minute goal in FIFA or in a tight spot in Warzone. It’s no surprise that this burns calories, but we were surprised to see just how many is burned during a two-hour session, it certainly beats doing 1,000 sit ups.”
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For the study, Stakester tracked the heart rate and calorie burn of 50 gamers while they played FIFA and Warzone for two hours. Researchers discovered that male gamers burned an average of 210 calories per hour during an intense gaming session, which was similar to the number of calories they burned while performing 1,000 sit-ups. The results come after a 2020 study from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) of 1,400 gamers from 65 countries. In it, they discovered that players are 21 per cent more likely to have healthier body weights than the average population. Contrary to public perceptions of gamers, the study found that esport gamers smoke and drink less than the general public and are significantly more active.
It’s not hard to believe and draws many similarities to the fat-burning properties of chess. In 2019, ESPN revealed the “grandmaster diet”, or what they deemed to be weight loss “while barely moving”. The publication found that for the world’s top chess players, their stress response was on par with what elite athletes experience, with sustained elevated blood pressure endured for hours being similar to that found in competitive marathon runners. “It all combines to produce an average weight loss of 2 pounds a day, or about 10-12 pounds over the course of a 10-day tournament in which each grandmaster might play five or six times,” Aishwarya Kumar wrote for ESPN.
As QUT esports researcher Michael Trotter explained, “The findings challenge the stereotype of the morbidly obese gamer. When you think of esports, there are often concerns raised regarding sedentary behaviour and poor health as a result, and the study revealed some interesting and mixed results.”