Game developers lead a very distinct lifestyle. Regardless of whether or not they have day jobs, they always wind up in front of their computers working on games for hours. While entertaining, and certainly rewarding, game development is also quite challenging. More than the pressure to make sales and fund another project, it’s a matter of . . . trying to not turn into a blob.

It’s no secret Americans have an obesity problem. Those between the ages of 20-39 have an obesity percentage of 34.3. And 41 percent of those between 40 and 59 are obese. The largest culprit, aside from having a terrible diet consisting of sweets, meat, fast food, and excessive portions, is the fact that 80 percent of the nation isn’t meeting the government’s national physical activity standards.

And even if you’re not from America, it’s important to keep good habits and not spend hours on end in front of the screen. After all, sitting is the new smoking.

But not everything is as dire as it seems. For game developers in particular, spending hours at a desk doesn’t have to be an inevitable death sentence paved with obesity, heart disease, and loss of muscle mass.

Here are 6 tips you can start implementing today.

1) Invest in a Fitness Device, or Set Reminders

Here’s something you don’t know, nor care about, but it’s relevant: I’m a vegan. As such, I care about things like health, physical activity, environmental care and animal rights. So, unsurprisingly, I got myself a FitBit recently, and let’s just say it’s paying off three-fold.

Fitness devices are great because they can do what your smartphone can, only better, and more of it. For instance, a smartphone can track your steps, your sleep, and even your mindfulness, but a fitness device can track your sleep, food intake, steps, and many other things you can custom set it to do. You can even set fitness goals, like losing weight, maintaining your weight, or getting 10k steps in a day. Many even have their own apps that connect with whatever other fitness apps you might have, making your health journey entirely set to your specifications.

My favorite function of my FitBit is that it reminds me to walk each hour. So if you’re at the desk for 50 minutes, it vibrates and lets you know you should get at least 250 steps in before the hour is up. This reminds you to take a break, think clearly, and get some physical activity you otherwise wouldn’t get.

But if you’re not into the fitness device craze, that’s fine too! Your smartphone can do a lot still, so just invest in an arm band and set reminders to walk every hour using a reminder app.

2) Be Mindful About What You Eat

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It’s easy to think you have no time to eat healthy. After all, it requires extensive cooking at home, measuring, and even research (not everything marketed as healthy is actually healthy, so knowledge is power). But being even just a little bit more mindful about food choices can help you avoid added pound packing.

For instance, instead of buying snacks like Cheetos and Oreos, get yourself a bag of oranges. Not only would it be cheaper, it would be significantly healthier.

But don’t assume you can eat fruit all the time and not gain weight. Take bananas for example: They’re tasty and healthy, but they are also not ideal for a high-calorie diet.

Sandi Busch, a writer for Livestrong, explains:

“Bananas alone won’t make you gain weight, but if they’re part of a high-calorie diet, they will be one of several foods that contribute to extra pounds. When you consume more calories than you need, the excess calories go into storage somewhere in your body. Some of them will be stored as glycogen, which is then reused for energy when muscle activity increases. But the body has limited space for glycogen storage, so the remaining calories are converted into triglycerides and stored as fat.”

3) Take Walking Lunches

Seriously, eating at your desk just means you’re working through your lunch anyway. Or goofing around on Twitter.

Whatever happened to the good old outdoors? 

Instead, take your (healthy) lunch and take a light walk around your apartment building, neighborhood, work building, etc.. Wherever you are, you can walk. This will increase your serotonin and dopamine levels, brain chemicals that allow signals to pass from one nerve cell to the next. In other words, your mood, sexual desire, appetite, sleep, memory, and temperature regulation will all improve.

I don’t know about you, but I think that beats trolling on Reddit.

And make sure to take in the fresh air while you’re at it! Remember there’s a whole world out there beyond your monitor.

4) Drink Water Like Your Life Depends on It

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Because it does.

Water helps in a variety of ways: it keeps you hydrated, it keeps you feeling fuller for longer so you don’t overeat, and most importantly, it makes you have to go to the bathroom, which means you’ll be stepping away from your desk more than if you didn’t drink anything. It even helps your skin and kidneys, helps avoid those painful kidney stones, and energizes muscles.

Last time I checked, soda didn’t do that (plain seltzer water on the other hand . . . tasty stuff).

Speaking of which, diet soda is even worse than regular soda, people. Aspartame is in literally every diet soft drink out there, and it can cause Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, brain tumors, memory loss, and more.

5) Walk While Working

That’s right, while working!

There’s standing desks, which convert to higher or shorter versions to allow you to keep working while simultaneously getting in some physical activity.

If that’s not your thing, consider tilting your regular monitor and working that way. Another option is to simply use your phone. For instance, say you need a break from game development itself and want to spend some time working on the marketing side of things. You can blog from your phone with the WordPress app, or you can manage your studio’s social media channels.

6) Schedule In Your Fitness Time

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Ugh, right? Being physically active in a serious, “not just walking” kind of way is definitely not for everyone. Take it from me, I hate exercising.

But if I got to a point where I loved it, then you can too.

To better explain, growing up, I was the least athletically inclined kid in class, always picked last, because the thought of understanding sports rules was like learning Greek to me. I was awful at sports.

And yet, one day, I decided I’d find something that really made me feel super excited. Something that would not only keep me in check physically, but also serve as some kind of outlet. And you know what that was? Going to the niche boxing gym, and taking kickboxing classes.

Does this mean you need to go do the same? Not at all! Just make sure you find something that you know works for you. Something you’re good at. And then, stick with it. Schedule it in wherever you see fit, whether it’s early in the morning before going to work, before you get home from work, or even in the evenings.

If it helps, don’t look at it as something you have to do. Think of it as an outlet. It’s a way to let off some steam, work out your aggression, and kick some butt!

Work smart, eat smarter, and focus on your overall health! Best wishes.

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