Game development is not the healthiest career. We spend hours at desks. We have sleepless nights and many of us subsist on a diet of energy drinks and pizza. That’s basically how I lived throughout my twenties. When I wasn’t developing I was a freelancer, first a writer/designer and then a developer, so that lifestyle has always been the norm.
In my thirties I realized that I needed to change. But I hate jogging and I don’t have time to get involved with sports. So I made a few small changes to my life that allowed me to exercise and stimulate my brain and body without committing too much time or effort. These are the games and activities I employed and would recommend.
If you can clear some space in your home or office, then get yourself an 8 foot pool table with an additional set of snooker balls. Not only can you play pool on a full size table, but you can also play games of snooker, which is much more tactical, requires more concentration and effort and takes more time.
It’s not a full size snooker table and it’s not regulation, but the smaller size and large pockets makes it a little easier for amateurs and for speed play.
Believe it or not, you can burn as much as 150 calories an hour playing snooker at a leisurely pace and if you’re an amateur like I am, then this is usually how long it takes to play just a few games. Pool is quick and it’s over before you know it. As a workaholic amateur who struggles to think about anything other than work, that’s not good enough. But snooker will take your mind off it and help you to burn calories.
If you don’t have someone else to play with, it doesn’t matter. Just set up the balls and go for a high score. If you give yourself a time limit to see how quick you can clear the table or pot a set number of balls, then you’ll burn more calories and get more exercise as you race around the table.
What better way to exercise than by fulfilling a childhood fantasy? There are very cool hover boards, scooters and other tech out there that will let you have a lot of fun while also getting you out and about. You’ll burn calories, you’ll get some fresh air and you’ll have fun—it’s perfect!
One of the best things I did was to install a swimming pool. I’ve never been a big swimmer and it was more for my partner than me, but I started to enjoy it and it became a regular way for me to exercise. You can’t beat the feeling of dipping into a cool pool on a hot day or a warm pool on a cold day.
Obviously, you need a big house and a decent budget, but it’s cheaper than you think. I always thought that it was well out of my budget until I actually looked into it. And considering you can burn 300+ calories an hour just from a light swim, it could reward you after that initial investment.
Kinect and Other Games
I gave up on the Wii and the Kinect after spending just a few minutes on them and after seeing the glut of dance games available for them. But then I discovered that there are many more games and better ways of using new tech.
I used the game Rocksmith to learn to play the guitar and eventually just to rock-out, getting exercise and having fun without leaving the house. I used sports games to have a quick blast of exercise without feeling like I’m forcing myself into it. Don’t dismiss these as fads and family fun, because these days they are so much more.
The two-player games are always best where these technologies are concerned, but the AI is so good these days that you have options even if you’re playing alone.
Watch this guy’s Rocksmith's Challenge to see how fun this game is and how much it can help.
The more you get out of a rut of working too much and exercising too little, you can start adding simple exercise equipment to your surroundings. It’s there as a motivation, and the reward is when you start to feel healthier and stronger.
There is a multitude of home gym equipment out there that can help you to train without requiring a lot of space or money. You have everything from the large and more expensive equipment like the Bowflex Max Trainer to simple resistance bands.
I personally found a lot of benefits practicing yoga and meditation. It’s not as vigorous, but I got my exercise elsewhere and considered those moments as a way to clear my head and stretch my weary muscles.