I spend a lot of time working on my mind, but I can’t say that I put as much effort into remaining physically sound. Just the other day, it took me almost a full minute to regain my composure after getting up from a prolonged squatting position! Just a few years ago, I was able to spring right up from precarious sitting positions without fail. There are moments when comfort takes over my ambition to be more physically active, but what good is comfort when you don’t even have good health?

I came across an article by Riki Hayashi that really put things in perspective. He says,

“The game we play promotes a sedentary experience. We sit to play for long hours at tournaments, and we do so at home as well. Think of how much time human beings spend in front of a computer now. We Magic players probably blow that figure away. MTGO, reading websites, watching videos and streams, and chatting with friends in other cities are just a few things we do for hour after hour. The game can also contribute to unhealthy eating habits. McDonald’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and an after-tournament meal). You’ve done it. You see others do it.”

Health choices don’t appear to be of utmost importance in the MtG community and I wonder if calling attention to the benefits will change some perspectives.  Recently I read an article that provides evidence for a strong correlation between mental and physical health. Do prominent players, such as Brad Nelson and LSV, who have taken control of their health know a secret we don’t? Can something as simple as eating better, exercise, and/or meditation really affect the outcome of a match? I decided to hit the streets of the lovely internet to find some answers and here’s what you all had to say!

“It takes discipline to increase fitness; it also takes discipline to develop one’s game to the level needed for competitive play – the main difference between the two activities being how intrinsically motivated one is to engage in them.” —Anonymous

“For me, regular workouts, meditation, and healthier diet hasn’t impacted the way that I play the game that much. On the other hand, the way that I feel about the game has changed. I feel more energetic and up-beat overall, which means I am a much more graceful loser. Thanks to that I am a more persistent player and I am able to learn more from losing. I am more likely to have fun at the events that I attend and I feel much friendlier with my opponents. Yesterday I went to an event and got totally stomped, but I had a blast and the only opponent I didn’t really get along with just didn’t engage in conversation. A healthy attitude is central to so many things, magic included. Physical health and mental health are closely intertwined, so if you get into shape, then you will feel good about yourself and just about everything else too.” —Male

“Anyone who’s been to major tournaments knows how tiring they can be. Sometimes the days can turn into eight or more hours of straight game play, especially if you are playing a control deck or any deck that forces long games. Even at FNM or Prerelease, you can noticeably get more and more tired as the night progresses. Being in better shape and eating correctly during the event apparently helps an enormous amount. Because you are sitting upright for so long, having some endurance helps to prevent leg cramps and keeps your blood flowing. Additionally, those who choose to drink water and eat healthy snacks typically are better and still feeling fresh later on, whereas people who choose to drink things like Red Bull and Mountain Dew or eat Slim Jims and burgers typically get more tired more quickly and have to go to the bathroom more.” —Anonymous

“As a judge who spends a lot of time on his feet walking around convention centers, getting fit has made a huge difference in my endurance and ability to work long days/weekends. I’ve lost 40-45 pounds since the beginning of last year and I’m thinking about judging an upcoming tournament with that weight strapped onto me just to remind myself of what it was like.” —Male, 35

“Sleeping well and drinking water instead of soda 24/7 gives me a clearer and alert state of mind.” —Anonymous

“I’ve been playing the best Magic of my life the last few weeks, and I’ve also been working out more regularly during this time. I’m feeling more calm during a game, which I think is partly helped by doing cardio and lowering my resting heart rate. While I do think exercise has helped my Magic some, I think both my increase in health and Magic are caused just by winter ending and not having seasonal depression making me not want to do anything.” —Male, 28

“Eating right, getting plenty of sleep and exercise will do you worlds of help. It keeps you awake, alert and focused especially during a long tournament. You will be less prone to missing information or making misplays. Besides you just feel good too.” —Male, 24

How has taking command of your physical health improved your game? Feel free to share in the comments section below and as always, thanks for reading.


Monique Garraud is a Brooklyn native who started playing Magic in 2011. “Grinding It Out” is her weekly take on the trials, tribulations, and joys of being a competitive tournament player.

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