Gamers: boost your health and your game

ARE you an ardent gamer whose competetive edge is dampened only by sore thumbs, unbalanced hands, tired eyes and back-ache? If so, read on.

In honour of the launch of the much-awaited Street Fighter IV last month, personal trainer and all-round fitness guru Laura Williams has joined forces with videogame publisher Capcom to create a “Wellbeing Guide to Videogaming”. As Capcom reasons: “TVs have got bigger, consoles have increased in size, yet no-one has given serious consideration to the wellbeing of videogames players.”

Indeed. Poor things. But Williams has provided solutions to quandaries including play-induced sleepiness, couch-induced weight gain and right wrist fatigue.

She has even concocted a Street Fighter menu, with meals designed to perk you up and keep you trim and healthy. See right for her tips on healthy gaming. For the whole guide, including menu, see

● Hard as it may be after a long day at the office, try sitting on a chair or, even better, on a large exercise ball when you're gaming. Taking simple measures like ensuring the screen is at eye level and positioned straight in front of you can prevent neck and upper back pain.

● A good warm-up is essential. A combination of stretching and mobility exercises can help to warm up muscles and mobilise joints if you’re going to be holding a controller and engaging in lots of repetitive hand movements. The same goes if you're using a mouse all day, too.

● You should always obey the 20-20-20 rule. Every twenty minutes, you should stop and focus on an object that’s twenty feet away for twenty seconds – this will help to prevent or alleviate eye strain and in this time, performing wrist and mobility exercises should help to prevent muscle and joint strain. Try and feel where you're carrying tension – clenching your teeth and hunching your shoulders is a sure recipe for RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury). Less tension = less likelihood of aches and pains. This applies to when you're in front of your PC at work as well as when you're glued to your flatscreen.

● Be aware that diet plays a very important role in helping to keep you alert throughout the day, whether you're gaming or working on a spreadsheet. Meals that contain plenty of protein (fish, meat, eggs, nuts etc) will help to keep you alert, while carbohydrate sources that have a slower glycemic response (wholegrains, jacket potatoes, oats, and so on) will help to keep you fuller for longer.

● Treats do have their place in the gamer’s diet. Chocolate is best when accompanied by fibre (e.g. a fruit and nut bar) while caffeine in moderation can help to delay fatigue and boost reaction time.