Exercise. You’re going to need it to take down those monsters attacking you out in the forest, and to eventually destroy Selfworthless, the vile dragon lurking in the caves north of town.

Gain HP is centered around cardio exercise, so that's the focus - Lots of movement, and getting your heart and lungs pumpin'. That being said, strength and balance are just as important in the long run, so I encourage you to also toss in some lifting of weights, yoga, etc.

Before giving you tips on exercising and explaining what it does to get you healthy and achieve a better weight, I should tell you that working out is not the #1 important thing to laser focus on during your journey. Your diet still reigns in that respect, as it controls your food intake to begin with. Exercise boosts your body’s proper breakdown of what you have consumed and keeps all your systems running better. Don't get me wrong, it's a major part of living your best, but exercise alone with no other alterations to your lifestyle will not be as effective.

 

That being said, it’s time for you to kick some tailbone (those poor skeletons!) as you burn extra calories, feel better mentally and physically, and function like the true hero you can be.

Look at the radical muscles on this one. I bet they kill at least 15
orcs per day! Queue a face-melting DragonForce guitar riff!

First of all, you need to set some realistic goals. None of this “New Years resolution” bullshit, I mean goals that you will actually accomplish. It’s all in taking control of your brain! You could say to yourself, “I’m going to exercise every day.” That’s fine and dandy, but what happens when you start counting “opening cans” and “walking down the stairs to my basement to play Shadowrun” as exercise? No, you need to be more specific, or your brain will let you get away with the dumbest reasoning. Try this instead - ”I’m going to walk around the block every day after work.” Or maybe, “I’m going to add 20 minutes of cardio exercise every single day.” Instead of vague plans you can make excuses for, now you have the beginnings of an easy-to-follow schedule.

Once you set these straight-to-the-point goals, try not to deviate. Not even one bit, or you may begin to slide. Let’s say you “Don’t feel up to it” tomorrow, so you only complete half of your workout time. Then the next day, maybe you’ll only do half again because you’re still not feeling your best. With this deviation, you could very well lose all your motivation until you quit exercising completely! You can be your own worst enemy, so don’t let yourself… um… get… to yourself. Get control of yourself, self!

As with the other sections in Gain HP, I am not going to tell you to perform exact exercises or make plans for you to specifically follow. Your doctor or physical therapist knows best on all of that. I will, however, lead you to some beginner's basics and discuss the benefits to you. Hopefully all of this will get you pumped up and ready to do workouts that are just right for you and your character class!

No, this is NOT a murloc, please stop emailing me about it. Jesus!

If you use wheelchair or are otherwise a person with a disability, your primary physician or coach knows the best exercises for you, and I'm positive they will have a much better plan than I can provide below for you.

For the rest of y'all, walking is as basic as it gets for a start, and it has fantastic health benefits. Whether on a complex belt and pulley contraption (treadmill), inside the merchant square (mall walking), or just strolling around your village avoiding pickpocketing knaves, you will be getting a decent cardio workout that is great for your body and your calorie burn. You can’t lose on this one, and for most of you without gym access or fitness equipment, this will definitely be the easiest to begin with.

Shoot for a minimum of at least 30 constant minutes, and walk just a bit faster than normal as you start. Once you gain endurance and your body gets more used to it, go ahead and push ahead a little harder. Make it a brisk pace, but don’t overdo it and tire yourself out too quickly or mess up your joints. For all of you out there that work desk jobs or no jobs and aren’t used to moving more than a few yards a day, this is going to be taxing at first. Not gonna lie. Good news, though! Your body will very quickly adapt to exercise-focused walking, and all the burning in your calves, ankles, lower back, and lungs will probably start to go away after a week or less.

Aside from walking, if you have access to gym equipment (stationary bicycle-type machines, step climbers, and the like), you can spice up the variety a bit and target more muscle groups than just regular walking does.

It may look indestructible, but after three months of
training, even YOU can defeat a Duzzindonut!

If you consider yourself heavily overweight or you are not used to exercise at all, I certainly don’t recommend jogging, running, or dancing / aerobics right away. The excess weight coming down around you with each bouncing step can easily pull and hurt your muscles, put your bones out of correct placement, make too much work for your heart and lungs, and even cause you to break or tear something that will make exercise impossible... or worse! Imagine your (good, not evil and reanimated) skeleton. Imagine the body mass around it – the organs, the muscles, the fat, the skin… Now picture how it looks in your head, how much is bouncing around your average-sized human skeletal frame underneath it all. If you laughed to yourself because it looked ridiculous or your eyebrows went into a “concerned” position because you saw your toothpick-like skeleton snapping under the weight, then chances are you better try walking before doing something more impactful.

Likewise, if you are very underweight, your muscles may not be up to the challenge quite yet, which could be equally dangerous. Take it slow, there will be plenty of time to level up later.

Cardio exercise as seen in workout videos is fantastic and can help motivate you with an actual trainer and energetic music (and sometimes hilariously goofy minions by their side that you can watch for entertainment), but only try them if your body is currently right for it (see the paragraph above). I can suggest two free examples to get you started: HASfit and The Fitness Marshall. HASfit offers an incredible amount of videos based on cardio, strength training, and stretches for all levels, and most videos have an option to follow someone doing the same exercise, but with less mobility. The Fitness Marshall is a crazy dance instructor that will absolutely kick your ass and make you laugh while he's doing it. Bless his little heart.

Need more ideas on exercise, or would you just like to make everything a little more interesting? You know, more like a video game? There are plenty of workout apps in your phone's store. Search for something like "Daily workout" and you should be set. It will probably be worth a few bucks to get a premium one that has no ads and includes all the "bells and whistles" that will specifically motivate you.

No, these are not bells and whistles. This is a sheep.

Even if you can't find the perfect app on your phone or channel on YouTube, there are still plenty of gamer activities to get into so that your nerd pride won’t suffer at the likes of your workout. Why not try:

  • LARPing (Live Action Role Playing), specifically with games in which boffers are ever-present

  • Paintball, Airsoft, or Laser Tag - What could be better than turning your favorite first-person shooter into a real-life game (where nobody gets hurt, of course)?

  • Ring Fit Adventure (for Nintendo Switch owners) or the Just Dance franchise, which is available for, like, every platform ever, forever

  • Geocaching or Augmented Reality mobile games (the most popular example being Pokémon Go), which can actually get you to go outside and move around the Kingdom in real time

  • Dance Dance Revolution, Pump It Up, Para Para Paradise, and other dedicated music / rhythm games with lots of movement - Find those in your local arcade... if you're lucky enough to still have a local arcade

Here, we see a traditional LARPer without their costume.

  • Ultimately, just consider the benefits of working out 30 minutes a day or more. Exercising will: 

  • Strengthen your heart, you know, so you can live longer

  • Increase your energy and stamina levels so you don’t get worn out so quick

  • Fortify your bones (like what happened to Wolverine, but a tad less dramatic)

  • Improve your circulation and help you breathe much better

  • Balance out fat and muscle to attain a more desirable weight

  • Improve your balance and flexibility

  • Level up your sexual performance, if you're into that kind of thing

  • Increase and tone your muscle build to gain more strength

  • Help you avoid embarrassments like hemorrhoids, fissures, and inner thigh boils

  • Increase joint mobility

  • Combat dry and cracking feet

  • Get you deeper, more restoring sleep

  • Make you feel better about yourself to assist in kicking depression, stress, and anxiety to the curb

  • Lower or eliminate your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, osteoporosis, and general pain

High Blood Pressure (actual size)

  • Ready to start training for your epic dragon hunt? Well, all right, then. Let’s plan out what you’re going to do, whether it be walking or some of the other exercise mentioned above.

  • No matter what character class you end up picking, work out for at least 30 -continuous- minutes every day. It takes about 5 to 7 minutes for an endorphin rush to be released while exercising, and that is when you start feeling fully “into” it, like a machine, and your body’s pain tolerance and excitement is raised. I would also recommend not working out for longer than an hour to begin with, especially those of you who haven’t exercised at all this past year (or more!).

  • Before starting, here’s another big time tip from the hint book - Do not overstretch before your workout, which is easy to do! Tests starting back as far as 15 years have shown that in the vast majority of cases, stretching to your full range before exercise actually leads to advanced risk of injury and muscle damage. Basically, your body tries to overcompensate when you stretch too far by contracting, making the muscle more tense. When your muscles haven’t been limbered up yet, tensing them up can cause lack of available motion and even make way for damage when you push them during the workout. Instead, you should stretch perhaps to about 75% of your full ability, just to loosen things up a bit. At the end of your workout, when you've been in constant motion for a long time, you should then bump it up to about 90% of your full ability. Don't ever risk 100% or past what's comfortable. This way, your muscles will be always be loose enough to stretch a great amount during exercise and rest afterwards without jacking everything up.

Stretching too hard before a workout could leave your
muscles looking somewhat like this.

  • Now it’s time to venture forth! Begin with a warm-up, or in other words, start sluggishly. Do your intended exercise, but establish your movement at the bottom of your ability and creep up to a more comfortable level. Keep a steady pace for a few minutes. This will help loosen up your body to get you towards a full range of motion and lower the risk of you stretching muscles too far or injuring yourself. Turn that steady pace up eventually until you get to your regular speed.

  • Okay, now… Ready… set… go! You’re operating at normal speed, now ramp it up just a bit. Gradually increase your activity as you go on and become comfortable again, but don’t push yourself too hard. An optimal exercise is when you’re pushing towards your limit, but not breaking that limit.

  • As you end your workout, do yourself a favor and don’t just immediately full stop what you’re doing. Near the end, pump the breaks a bit and start winding yourself down. Get back to your regular pace, and then slower… slower… Less activity. Think of stopping a car – you can either slam on the breaks and skid out of control, or you can ease the brake and come to a safe, completely controlled stop. You know which one is more pleasant.

  • Now, it’s time to stretch! Give your muscles a little praise for their hard work. For a decent starter’s guide to proper stretching, please click here. Do not skip this step, because this will improve your movement for the rest of the day and decrease or eliminate any pain which you might feel afterwards due to Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). DOMS usually hits you within the next day or so, and it’s the leading reason why people quit working out right away, because they think they will hurt every single day due to exercise. Stretch after your workouts to avoid future pain piling up!

  • There. Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it? No way! You can do this! Remember, as your body becomes comfortable to your level of activity, ramp it up just a bit the next time you work out. If your body gets used to what you’re doing, the benefits will start to dull off. Instead, keep your body guessing and it will compensate!

Look! There they are again! It's actually 18 orcs a day, by the way.
What a brick shithouse. You WISH you had this cape.

Some final tips on exercise:

  • Wait at least one and a half hours after eating before a complete, intense workout and you'll be a lot less slushy-sloshy and uncomfortable during it. A basic, normal walk should be fine before that time, though

  • Find a friend or loved one that will work out with you, or try exercising in public / at a gym. With extra people around, you will find yourself more motivated and less apt to cheat or give up. Of course, during the pandemic, this is highly limited

  • Do not lay down immediately after working out. For the best circulation and to make sure your body fully accepts your exercise, sit in a chair for a while if you really need to rest

  • Get comfy sports shoes that fit your feet perfectly. This has an incredible impact on your stamina and how well your body benefits from activity. Shoes without proper support will only hurt you over time. Going to a specialty store to get fitted for sports shoes can help you feel a -huge- difference

  • If you really bust your ass in a workout, don’t get cocky and think you can offset it by skipping the next workout. A constant schedule is the only way this will work. Don't play yourself!

How to Play the Game
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Resting (Sleep)
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