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Video Games Promoting Healthy Lifestyles

Video games have been assisting individuals to lead healthier and more active lifestyles for years. Who would have thought video games, healthy and exercise could ever be in the same sentence, and a positive one at that. The common thought on video games is it involves too much screen time, brainwashes our kids, makes you lazy, makes you gain weight and reduces social interaction. This can certainly be the case for many, but on the flip side, it is helping many others to get fit and healthy in their own home. Video games can promote healthy lifestyles.

Wii Fit board exercise
(photo credit: EB Games)

With the evolving of technology of the years, and the increase in interactive technology, there are a wide range of games that can get you moving. Gaming systems such as Xbox, Nintendo Wii, Playstation, even your PC, have a wide range of gaming options to suit individuals and various fitness goals. The term for video games used as a form of exercise is called ‘exer-gaming’ or ‘gamercising’. Yes, it has it’s own name.

I know a lot of people, who love to workout at home using their Nintendo Wii. I’ve given it a go too. Although the Wii is now considered ‘old’ (Nintendo Wii U uses newer technology), the technology and variety of games is still there and it works. Just search google and you’ll find thousands of success stories, and the number of people who had FUN while getting fit without paying massive fees for gym memberships and personal trainers. The downside is, you need to be motivated to stick to your program and exercising in your own home. There’s no one to push you, except your on screen trainers.

So let’s take a closer look at a few popular games and what’s involved, focusing on the Nintendo Wii.

Wii Fit is one of the original fitness games that created a lot of buzz when first launched. Using a controller, and for many exercises there’s a balance board, get fit with less intensive exercises. Create a character for yourself on screen, enter all your measurements and goals, and track your progress. There are dozens of activities to choose from including yoga, aerobics, strength training and balance games. Who doesn’t enjoy hula hooping and skateboarding.

Are you interested in Zumba, but you’re not the most coordinated of people but want to have some fun? Then pick up a Zumba game or two, turn up the volume and get ready to move. You can get a belt to attach your remote to, and follow your Zumba instructor on screen, and sweat it up. It’s just like being in a private class.

If you love to dance, then Dance Revolution games might be for you. With a large range of music styles and songs, follow the dancer on screen. The Wii will track your movements and as you get the moves and timing right with the game, earn points to unlock levels and new songs. Kids love this game. Not only is it fun, but you can learn some great dance moves and improve your coordination.

There are fitness games available that not only provide a wide variety of workouts and routines, they also provide meal plans and easy to follow healthy recipes. Choose your trainer, choose your goals, even choose the exercise venue on screen. Take control of how and when you exercise with some guidance.

Do you sit on the couch eating chocolate and chips while watching The Biggest Loser? Why not get off the couch, join the red or blue team, and train with US trainers Bob and Gillian instead. There are personalised workouts and challenges. How about trying to stay on the treadmill without falling off into the pool below? Maybe slow down so you fall just once just to see what happens and to have a laugh, then get back up and complete the challenge for real.

These a few examples of some video games, but there are many more out there, including boxing and boot camp style games.

So with active video games such as these, along with the convenience of being able to train in the privacy of your own home, does this impact the fitness industry? Most studies say no, because many individuals lack the motivation to go the healthy and fit path alone, or they are not confident that they’ll learn correct techniques etc. So is it a good option then? Absolutely. Anything that gets people up and moving, even just a little bit, is great. Active video games are not for everyone, but research certainly shows that having fun while you exercise only has positive effects. So if gyms and personal trainers aren’t your thing, then maybe give this a go. You receive more feedback and can track your progress which you can’t do with exercise videos and DVDs.

As technology has evolved even more since the Nintendo Wii launched such games, tracking and interactivity has improved immensely, with game cameras to track movements etc. Then there’s smart phones and tablets with apps that you can take anywhere with you, providing even more flexibility and access than video games. Throw in fitness watches and bands, and you can certainly see how fitness related technology is a thriving industry and will only continue to grow in the years to come. You just need to find what works for you, whether it involves technology, or you stick to the basics and go for a walk, go for a run or do an aerobics class. Your options are endless.