Kids playing towards fitness through exergaming

Known as active play video games, exergaming is an approach to fitness befitting for the digital age.  To play the game, you have to perform physical activities, combining games and exercise. It cannot solely lead to a fit lifestyle, but it’s a decent start to getting at least the bare amount of exercise daily. As a teenager, exergaming was the start of a healthier, more active way of life.

While simulating playing tennis on the Wii is not as effective as playing with an actual racquet, it still facilitates exercise. Games are fun, which makes kids more obliged to participate. If you’re trying to steer your children (or yourself!) into exergaming, try to go towards dancing games, which require full-body movement.

Exergaming has several health benefits. It can improve coordination. It is an aerobic workout. It helps decrease stress. In a world where obesity is rising, exergames is a crucial development to bridge the gap between technology, which thus far has resulted in a more sedentary lifestyle, and physical activity.

As someone who shies away from traditional forms of exercise, I found my solution through Dance Dance Revolution (DDR). It’s a simple game, four directional arrows glide up the screen in time to the music and the player has to hit the corresponding arrows on the dance pad.

I’ve been playing DDR for almost nine years. At the height of my gaming, I played on expert difficulty for two hours daily. Research shows that you lose 8.1 calories per minute playing on expert, meaning that I burned through over 900 calories per session (perhaps minus 100 calories for water breaks). Not bad exercise for a video game. I was in the best physical shape of my life.  My good friend and fellow DDR fiend back in the day lost 40 pounds in six months purely by playing DDR.

DDR and many of these exergames are played with two or more people, promoting it as a social activity. Many of these games can be played on varying levels of difficulty, making it accessible to everyone. Playing against each other prompts competition, which is a great motivator to exercise. As a teenager, I used to go to a DDR meetup every week at the local arcade. We would play against each other all day until our feet could take no more. Now that I’m older, I mix DDR in with traditional dance classes.

Adolescents these days tend to lean toward television and online activities over going outside. While exergames can never replace real sports or other recreational activities, it can be a good first step towards getting your children off the couch.