Surprise! Turns out the top esports players are fitter than average

Michael Trotter (left) of Queensland University of Technology.

Tired of people telling you that esports players aren’t real athletes? Next time someone trots out the old stereotypes about lethargic video gamers, tell them to shut their pie hole. Or, better yet, tell them about the latest research out of Australia. Specifically, a new study that shows the average esports competitor is in fact fitter than many in the general population.

Researchers at Queensland University of Technology surveyed 1,500 gamers living in 65 countries. They found that pro gamers are nine to 21 percent more likely to be a healthy weight than the general population. Moreover, they also drink and smoke less than the general population.

Also worth noting: the top 10 percent of esports athletes are significantly more physically active than lower-level players. This suggests that being fitter might give some players and edge in esports competition.

Challenging stereotypes

QUT esports researcher Michael Trotter said the results challenge the stereotype of the morbidly obese gamer.  

“When you think of esports, there are often concerns raised regarding sedentary behavior and poor health as a result, and the study revealed some interesting and mixed results,” Trotter said in a university press release. “As part of their training regime, elite esports athletes spend more than an hour per day engaging in physical exercise as a strategy to enhance gameplay and manage stress.”

However, researchers found that 4.03 percent of gamers were more likely to be morbidly obese compared to the global population.

Indeed, Trotter said this points to the importance of stressing healthy habits within the esports world as whole.

“Exercise and physical activity play a role in success in esports and should be a focus for players and organizations training esports players,” he said. “This will mean that in the future, young gamers will have more reason and motivation to be physically active.”

In conclusion, Trotter noted that “grassroots esports pathways, such as growing university and high school esports, are likely to be the best place for young esports players to develop good health habits for gamers.”

QUT’s Faculty of Health, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences led the study in collaboration with the Department of Psychology at Umeå University in Sweden. They published their results in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Want to read more about the links between physical fitness and top-level gaming? Check out Mark Judge’s eCentralSports article “Esports and exercise: a perfect pairing for the serious gamer?“. Click here for our look at the mental-health aspects of gaming.

I have done a lot of different things over the course of my life and professional career. I have interviewed Oscar and Grammy winners and written cover stories for glossy newsstand magazines. I have played guitar in a rock band on national TV and run an independent music label for which I wrote all of the PR and marketing materials. In my spare time, I sweated out a novel about a world where raccoons are kings and dragons are real.

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