It’s easy to lose track of time when invested in a high-stakes game of poker. Players tend to sit for hours at a time when deeply focused with little to no breaks in between. Though it’s something that may not be considered, your physical health can play a surprisingly important role in your success at the poker table.

The mental stimulation that comes with playing any variation of poker is evident, and can keep those playing incredibly focused for long periods of time, leading to improved levels of cognitive function and the development of new neural pathways. However, what should not be too surprising is the detriments to your health that come with extended periods of time with little or no physical movement.

Sitting in any position for longer than a few hours can have quite hazardous effects on your overall health. Blood flow begins to slow which can directly affect your heart, brain, and other major organs, which is a major concern for those wishing to play their best games of poker. In order to combat these harmful effects, aim to take short breaks once every hour or so. Of course, in a game lasting longer than this, it may be more difficult to leave the table. In such an instance, simply standing and stretching while keeping your eyes on the cards is an adequate form of physical movement that can greatly benefit you in the long run.

Refreshing your brain power is crucial in order to stay one step ahead of your opponents in poker, and avoiding breaks altogether will do just the opposite. Thing about how many aspects of the game you must be considering at all times. What are your opponents’ tells? Have any of them shown signs of bluffing? Should you change up your post-flop play in order to avoid suspicion of others? With a slower blood flow and longer period of time sitting, many of these considerations can fall by the wayside, setting you up for failure in the long run.

Breaks, whether short or long, allow players to clear their minds after suffering poor hands or costly mistakes. Following one of these mistakes, choosing to sit can have adverse effects. You as a player may dwell on that decision, developing a negative mindset and potentially blinding you from other positive moves. Playing carelessly is a guaranteed way to lose a poker game. Ignore the naturally occurring emotional responses that come with mistakes, and continue to focus on the task at hand.

Standing and walking away from the table every now and then can prove beneficial for many poker players. No matter the type of physical exercise, keeping your body moving throughout a game can positively stimulate the brain, leading to increased levels of awareness, and better decision making skills when involved in any poker game.