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Gaming is fun, there’s no denying that, but are you aware that your favorite hobby may be damaging your health? Sitting down for hours at a time and making repetitive movements may be causing more harm to your body than you realize.

There have been some recent news items about gamers dying after marathon sessions, but while these incidents are thankfully rare, they do raise awareness of the dangers of long-term gaming. Studies have even been conducted into such sessions, and they have found some worrying effects.

For example, excessive or prolonged gaming has the ability to increase your aggression. This is because approximately 90% of video games have a violent premise or subject, with the gamer playing a character who is expected to use violence towards another character. The studies have shown that such games increase aggressive behavior, thoughts, and feelings in real life and induce a “fight or flight” response in gamers. This side effect has been a concern for some time – that gaming desensitizes people to violence and thereby makes violence seem normal. To avoid this happening, try choosing games that are less violent.

Any sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of obesity, and gaming obviously involves sitting still and in the same position. To avoid weight gain and increase muscle strength, put a limit on your gaming sessions – perhaps no more than 30 minutes at a time without getting up and moving about.

Staring at a screen can also affect your vision. You may find that you blink less when gaming because you are so intent on your play, but this can lead to dry eyes that are prone to fatigue and infection. You may also experience blurry vision, irritation, and a sensitivity to light. You should have your eye health checked regularly, and always wear glasses or contact lenses if your sight is less than perfect. If wearing vision aids is not your thing, you could opt for Blade Free LASIK in Houston Texas to improve your vision.

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is another significant health risk. As with anyone who spends a lot of time at a computer typing or operating a mouse, a gamer who uses a joystick or other computer controls may develop pain in the hands and wrists, forearms, shoulders, and neck area. In extreme cases, the gamer may also experience tingling in the fingers where the muscles have been overworked. The best way to combat RSI is to reduce the amount of time spent gaming, as well as investing in ergonomic keyboards, joysticks, and possibly chairs.

The last major concern is less easy to become aware of. Addiction is quite common among gamers, who find they are unable to stop playing games. If forced to do so, they sometimes become depressed, exhibiting signs of anxiety and distress. If you start to become desperate to return to your game, step back and consider whether you are developing an addiction.

Like most activities, there are pros and cons associated with gaming. Gaming can be a diverting and educational pastime. As long as you impose limits on your gaming time and do not neglect your health.

[Photo by Mack Male / Flickr]