Is Fitness Gaming the Answer?
Are You Game Enough to Get Fit in a Fun and Often Frenetic Way?
Living in a digital era has given most people around today some incredible advantages over those who grew up without the advent of computers, smartphones, tablets and game consoles. Despite the obvious benefits of having modern technology, there are certain aspects of life today which have actually been of detriment to both children and adults alike. While our screens became smaller, our butts became bigger! An unfortunate result of the sedentary life that too much screen time can induce. The dramatic rise in problems such as childhood obesity, diabetes and heart disease has reached almost epidemic proportions for many nations. One of the best answers to these issues and other dilemmas presented by the digital age is an increase in intense physical activity. There is still the same issue which people have had forever….how do you make fitness fun?!
Is Fitness Gaming the Answer?
Remember how much fun those games of tag were when you were a child? Or how much you enjoyed your sporting activities and extracurricular entertainments when you were a teenager? You were so busy having a good time that you didn’t even realise you were exercising! This is why we need to create a society with culture and communities based around a balanced regime of dedicated screen time in conjunction with positive, healthy and physically active entertainments. I certainly wish I had grown up in an era where this was possible.
This is why so many people are asking themselves, “Is fitness gaming the ultimate answer to a whole host of social and health-related issues?” Actually, according to the American Council on Exercise, fitness gaming really does work and has positive and productive outcomes for all participants. Fitness gaming is the latest craze to be sweeping the world, and it’s coming up with remarkable results.
Perhaps if these options were around much earlier, the health concerns afflicting society wouldn’t have gotten so out of control that childhood obesity has become a common problem. If we’d had access to these entertaining options for physical fitness, we could be living in a world where healthy sustainable lifestyles are the norm as opposed to the masses suffering through killer diseases like diabetes and heart disease. These problems are usually brought about through poor nutrition and lack of physical activity.
Sometimes referred to as exertainment, exer-gaming or active gaming - fitness gaming combines video games and physical fitness into a winning combination of entertainment and activity. It’s a great way to get people excited about exercise instead of it being a chore they have to suffer through. In the long-term, engagement with fitness gaming usually results in a marked difference in the way that people choose to live their lives. Leading sustainable, healthy lifestyles is something we should all aspire to, and if you can have fun while doing it, then it makes the prospect of an active lifestyle that much more enjoyable.
Benefits of Fitness Gaming vs Traditional Physical Activity
There’s been considerable research done on the health benefits that arise from fitness games, and admittedly the most desirable one is that it’s actively engaging and entertaining for people of all ages. Whereas the traditional path of physical activity through regular exercise seems to be an arduous task at times and more like straight out hard work than fun.
Active gaming offers both short-term through to long-term benefits. Initially, it’s useful for engaging children and adults in fun physical activities instead of sedentary pursuits. The interim goal is to improve fitness and overall health, with long-term benefits being a positive impact on the social and mental wellbeing of active participants.
Activity-based video games generate a higher level of engagement than with traditional exercise. This seems to reduce the level of exertion in players considerably. Usually resulting in a higher level of motivation to stay with the workout activity, rather than stick with regular exercise. Fitness games can become a gateway to more difficult sports and activities. It is ultimately leading to an optimal, healthy lifestyle.
It has been documented that active gaming raises energy expenditure to moderate, or in some cases, quite rigorous levels. It can actually offer a viable alternative to traditional physical sporting activities for those that are not naturally inclined in that direction. An increasing number of studies even support the notion that fitness gaming has a positive effect on, not only health and fitness in general but agility, strength, coordination and cognitive processes.
It reportedly has considerable effects on social and cognitive problem solving, with the additional benefits of reducing anxiety and stress in many instances. So, who wouldn’t want to spend a little time having some fun with their friends over a little competitive gaming? Especially when it has all of these fantastic benefits associated with it!
It’s the very nature of interactive gaming, which proves to have the most intrinsic value. It inspires enthusiasm for exercise. Constant honing of competitive skills through cultivation of attention to detail, multi-tasking, planning and problem-solving is a by-product of active gaming. Making decisions and anticipating events, as well as engaging working memory in the virtual environment, are all elements of higher executive functioning. This can prove to be vital in stemming early onset dementia in the elderly and improves mental acuity in both children and adults. Another reason why games should be enjoyed by one and all, not just the kids!
Due to the potential benefits and the ability to vastly improve children’s academic performances as well as their physical health, fitness games are now being included in student’s physical education classes. Apparently, machine simulated dancing scenarios in particular (those like iWALL) have a positive correlation between gaming and overall performance in school.
Health and Weight Management
Experts in the field are now recommending fitness gaming as a partner to other forms of exercise, i.e. cycling. Although many people have low fitness levels and find that dance games are the perfect place to start. They happen to burn just as many calories (or more) than a brisk walk, and the expenditure of energy is at least three times higher than when engaged in sedentary activities.
Overweight children, in particular, can benefit significantly from any increased physical activity. With fitness games, they are motivated through the fun factor of entertainment and the addictive nature of video games. Regular video games are commonly cited as a leading cause of childhood obesity. Instead of thinking about exercising, they are simply immersed in the game and actively engaged in the fun of the activity, yet reaping the benefits of the movement and exercise. I wish I had had the advantages of this when I was a kid. It would have had a serious impact on my current lifestyle choices!
Active video gaming is a social experience, allowing a chance to interact with like-minded peers, which can often inspire friendships among individual players and groups. Multiplayer experiences immerse each player in the game, giving them a feeling of commonality and collaboration yet fosters autonomy. Since the players’ attention is always on the screen, they’re not looking at themselves or others, so body conscious image issues are reduced. Fitness gaming may be the answer, and so it’s being introduced into physical education curriculum in schools and is now being commonly accepted in senior homes, hospitals and health clubs, and of course at people’s homes.
Home Fitness Equipment
The perfect exercise program is one that accounts for different needs/preferences, is customizable as per requirements and is challenging enough to stimulate interest. There are too many fantastic workout games on the market to list them all but here are a few which are just right for the home environment:
Why not cycle while playing games with desk bikes
Wii Fit Games
Containing more than 40 activities specifically engineered to engage the players in physical workouts which include strength training, balance games, yoga poses and aerobics. Any other workout information external to the Wii Fit can also be logged in the profile. It’s a fun, fit and entertaining way to exercise as it actively engages you in the task at hand. So, you are more likely to have the inclination to return to the game for another round.
Kinect Fitness Games
Kinect has a heap of various workout games which enable you to work out in your own space (at home or office) with comfort and ease by using the Xbox’s motion-sensing controller. We’ve come a very long way from the age-old space invaders and pong type of computer gaming that was around in the early days!
There are numerous activities you can engage in for your workout games. Find yourself pounding away in the Cardio Boxing Activity, which certainly beats the old method of putting on gloves and getting your face punched in, like when we were kids! You can stretch out your aching muscles with a special genre of Zen Yoga activities and get some meditative peace of mind from your chosen game or even do some extreme planking.
Or perhaps you’re tired of working out? In that case, there’s always the option to dance your kilos off with a dance class feature. There’s a broad cross-section of dance styles to choose from, so you’ll be shaking your tail feather before you know it. Back when I was a kid, we all had to awkwardly approach someone to be our dance partner while we attempted to master the Salsa or Tango…..it wasn’t pretty! This seems to be a much-preferred option for many.
If there are specific areas of your body that you wish to target, there are exercise games specially designed for individual body parts. It’s easy to get your kids to work out when it comes to fun active games like Stack ‘em or Wallbreaker. Kinect monitors your exercises and will provide excellent feedback (like a real trainer) through the brilliant tracking system.
It’s incredibly cool since you can mark your daily progress by creating a video diary which records your posture, workout progress and stamina. All monitored by the intense motion tracking system.
Interactive Fitness Gaming Solutions
Whether you play to have fun, meet socially, stay fit or simply enjoy the challenge of the game, all active gamers experience many positive benefits associated with every one of these activities. Studies have shown, you get the traditional benefits of physical activity (regular exercise) plus the additional intrinsic value of improving your coordination and cognitive skillset through video gaming.
· IWALL’s active benefits include increased speed, agility, balance, improved sense of rhythm, spatial awareness, coordination, reaction time and endurance. The best part of this is that all the skills learned while playing translates into a real-world situation. Other cognitive benefits are better sequencing skills and ordering through to superior pattern recognition and a generally higher level of competence.
- Asthma sufferers are covered with the range of innovative interfaces from Breathing Labs which use breathing games and exercises to help manage asthma symptoms, enhance recovery from attacks and reduce stresses.
· Spark is an economical, augmented reality telerehabilitation platform which provides physical therapists with a way to engage patients who are afflicted by musculoskeletal injuries in the clinical environment or the comfort of their own homes. Moving away from the traditional rehabilitation methods, the Spark program engages patients in interesting and fun game-like exercises which are specifically tailored to their abilities and needs. It also provides them with a significant level of insight into the progress and overall performance.
This incredible evolution of old-school video gaming into ‘Fitness gaming’ features the absolute latest in computer, video technology and virtual reality. Active gaming makes exercise fun and is intended to be a pivotal part in the move to enable sedentary kids and adults to lead active lives. Fitness Gaming solutions are designed and executed based on the needs of today’s kids – they want social, interactive, colourful, loud, entertaining, musical, and educational challenges. Combining exercise with playing exciting and entertaining virtual reality multi-player games has completely revolutionised the gaming industry. It inevitably will dramatically change the lives of generations to come. I certainly feel a touch of envy that I didn’t have these wonderful advantages when I was a kid.
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