Help me put together an exercise plan.
October 6, 2008 9:34 AM   Subscribe

FitnessFilter: Can you recommend resources for exercises that can be done by someone sitting at/near a desk in their home while they play computer games?

I have a friend who is, shall we "avid" fan of MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft. So much so that they spend most of their day camped in front of their computer. Aside from not eating healthy, they aren't really active and have gained a LOT of weight as a result.

They've confessed their unhappiness with their appearance to me but also have made it clear that the game is more important. That said, I'm looking for resources for building a workout plan for them that is built around their desk environment, preferably using tools that are free/inexpensive.

MMOs include a lot of downtime that comes in periods of between 2-8 minutes at a time. My theory is that there is enough time there to get a couple sets of something in.

I'm looking for resources that provide simple exercises they could do within the time-frame of those break periods, as well as numbers for "calories burned" or something similar for each exercise so I can put together a plan and some goals for them.

I fully recognize that diet is a part of the equation and am taking baby steps towards helping w/ that by ensuring healthy, gamer-friendly snacks are available (suggestions for those are also appreciated!). I also recognize that there are deeper issues involved when someone lets themselves go like that for a game, but it is not my place to intervene there. That said, I'd appreciate it if you please focus on the main questions which are resources for the exercises and/or healthy gamer-friendly snacks (gamer-friendly being stuff you can eat with a single free hand without too much effort) and lets avoid discussion of the deeper issues which I don't feel this is an appropriate forum for.

I'll be happy to answer any additional questions that arise--thanks AskMeFi!
posted by Elminster24 to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Well, they could sort of passively excercise during the whole playing period by exchanging their chair with an excercise ball. They'd have to keep balance on the ball, which will not only build core strength but improves posture. It's actually very comfortable, and in between they could use the ball for whatever excercise suggestions also come up in this thread.
posted by Planet F at 9:44 AM on October 6, 2008

I'll be happy to answer any additional questions that arise

Have "they" actually agreed to do this or are you just hoping they'll do it?

Free weights might be worth doing, I guess.

It takes a lot of effort to burn calories off via exercise. It takes about a mile and a half of running to burn off a can of Coke, so exercise that focuses on building muscle rather than burning calories would probably be effort better spent. A few minutes here and there isn't going to have a significant effect on getting rid of fat.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:46 AM on October 6, 2008

Well, it might seem a bit obvious but what about the Wii Fit?

I've had it for a month and my pants are falling off (in a good way).
posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 9:47 AM on October 6, 2008

I played WoW compulsively for two years and put on well over three stone...

In my experience, the "downtime" in WoW isn't really downtime at all - a WoW player always finds things to do in that time, be it conjure consumables, check bags, take potions, re-buff, etc. and just generally keep an eye on the screen to see when the next attempt will be made (or to make sure to hit Invisibility if someone accidentally pulls the boss while rezzing folk...)

It's laudable to imagine that the time can be used to lose weight - I tried doing vacuums a lot, but it really made little difference - the general inactivity and increase convenience of eating outweighed (if you'll excuse the pub) any exercise...

If your friend is focussed enough to step away from the PC to do, say burpees, they're probably dedicated enough to quit the game completely - else, from experience I'd imagine it a pretty-much lost cause to try and exercise and play WoW at the same time.
posted by benzo8 at 9:50 AM on October 6, 2008

I've done these (all are good for game playing and/or plain old tv watching):

Swap out a chair for a large yoga ball. Maintaining balance and posture while sitting on a yoga ball uses more energy than you would think.

Play standing up, standing on a balance board.

Get a couple of small 5-6lb medicine balls (about $10/each). Toss them about, doing x reps during downtime. Incorporate quest completion into the routine, so, x amount of xp gives you x amount of reps, etc..

I started doing all of these things last February because I was in the same boat. I got a goood kickstart and gradually worked in to heavier exercise (which also pulled me away from the MMO more and more). I can't say that the exercise in itself helped me lose weight, but it got my body moving, and that in itself can lead to better things. Along with dietary changes(really the most important, but the exercise will help with the motivation to eat better), 8 months later and 85lbs down, I can say for certain that these things help. YFMMV.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:50 AM on October 6, 2008

First of all, to actually answer your question: I have heard of, but not personally used, bike pedal rigs that fit under a desk, such as the ones mentioned in this previous thread. Also, my personal favorite few minutes at a time exercise is pull-ups, and I have a pull-up bar a few feet away from my computer at home.

With that said, I agree with A Terrible Llama that the key here is buyin from the person who is actually going to do the exercises. To make any kind of significant effect on health, exercising takes a commitment, and if your friend doesn't have the drive to do it then none of your suggestions will matter. The most helpful thing you can probably do, if possible, would be to strongly suggest that the two of you exercise together in some capacity. It doesn't have to be going to the gym, it could just be walking regularly. The point is that if you really want to help someone become more fit, you have to do more than just give them tips, you need to be there to be supportive and give them a reason to keep doing it even when they would normally give up.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:12 AM on October 6, 2008

Best answer: Diet is way more useful than exercise when it comes to losing weight, specifically. And if your friend isn't at a point where they care enough to make their OWN effort to lose weight, you won't be able to help them. It's a struggle as it is for most people who actually WANT to lose weight. Without their own motivation, it's a lost cause.

Weight loss strategies in relation to exercise DO differ based on sex. Is your friend male or female? Females will want to focus on core exercises and building toned lean muscle, whereas most males will want very defined or bulky muscles - generally speaking.

I recently bought the Wii-Fit and it's not something you could do while playing another game, especially WOW, but if your friend has a Wii it is fun - frustrating at first, especially when the little voice groans as you get on the board :/ but fun. Many of the Wii games are good exercise if you do them standing up, you will jump around and play. I was shocked the first time I played the tennis game, my arms were sore the next day.

For the snacks part - replace any drinks which have calories with calorie free ones - you don't get full from drinking a coke, it's "wasting" the calories. Veggie sticks are easy to eat with one hand. However, an important part of maintaining a healthy weight is being aware of what you are eating. Mindlessly scarfing down carrot sticks is just as unhealthy when it comes to your MIND as it is with potato chips. A person should be aware of what they are eating, fully enjoy it, and then move on to another activity, not eat while doing other things just because a hand is free and the mind thinks the body is hungry.
posted by jesirose at 10:49 AM on October 6, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the great advice so far...keep it coming!

To answer the questions about their willingness to participate...they are game as long as it doesn't pull them away from WoW for too long. Hence why the suggestions for short bursts of time. They basically tossed it to me as a challenge since I like that sort of thing.

It would be great if through exercise they eventually move away from the game but they are not ready to cross that bridge at this time (nor am I qualified to help them do that to be honest).

If I can get more suggestions on specific exercises that can be done at/near the desk that would be great. Love the thoughts on the chair/ball thing and the desk-bikes but I'm not sure that's within the budget.

I have some free weights I could lend them if that helps.
posted by Elminster24 at 11:43 AM on October 6, 2008

There is a PBS show called Sit and Be Fit that caters to seniors and folks who are unable to get out of their chairs to exercise. I've watched a few of their TV shows and while the simplicity of the exercises made me snicker at times, I could see that these movements continued over an extended period of time would certainly be beneficial.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:48 AM on October 6, 2008

I'd suggest dumbell curls. They can be done sitting or standing, one-handed, without taking one's eyes off the screen.

I agree with burnmp3s that pull-ups are a great quick exercise, although being able to do even one good pull-up might take some working up to if your friend is out of shape.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 12:12 PM on October 6, 2008

Oh, and there's this thing.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:37 PM on October 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

As for cost, excercise balls usually only cost somewhere between 10 and 30 dollars
posted by Planet F at 1:09 PM on October 6, 2008

If "they" is really "she" I'd say kegels.
posted by Breav at 2:53 PM on October 6, 2008

I play Xbox 360 while hammering on my Spin Bike (Cycle-ops sport 100). Madden is a good one to play because you're never really 'playing' for more than 5-10 seconds at a time. I'd like to pick up a wireless GH hero for this winters' riding.

A friend of mine, who is a VERY talented cyclist, plays WOW while riding his trainer.
posted by neilkod at 3:11 PM on October 6, 2008 can do them, too.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:24 PM on October 6, 2008

Use the Wiimote for WoW instead; get plenty of exercise.
posted by querty at 8:50 PM on October 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Jumping jacks.

Start standing with feet together and hands at sides, jump to having feet about 24 inches apart and arms extended horizontally to the sides. Jump back to starting position. Repeat.
posted by yohko at 8:51 AM on October 7, 2008

Dumbbell/kettlebell swings/snatches are great for getting the heart rate up in a short amount of time. Doing max reps in 5 minutes (or less at first) several times a day would go a long way.

Burpees are great, in a painful kind of way. It takes tons of self-discipline for me to get myself to do any number of them. Along with the swings or snatches, burpees are full-body exercises which will get more large muscle groups involved in the exercise for a greater caloric impact.

What about rope skipping? A tabata interval with either of the above will take 4 minutes to perform.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 11:02 AM on October 8, 2008

« Older Keep your phone, or else.   |   Anyone know people at American Express? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.