Will Fitness Games Make You Fit?
For years, video games created generations of people enamored by the sedentary lifestyle.
People born between 1961 and 1981 or those from Generation X were lamenting the fact that kids were avoiding outdoor play and physical activity in favour of virtual-based activities.
Not surprisingly, the sedentary lifestyle became associated with the rising rates of global obesity.
Then in 1999, Nokami released “Dance Dance Revolution” a virtual reality game which required players to follow dance steps that were displayed on the screen.
The game became widely popular and although virtual reality activity games were first introduced in the market in the 1980s, “Dance Dance Revolution” officially ushered in the age of the Fitness Games.
Fitness Games are also referred to as “Exergames”; software that encourages players to move and perform as if they were actually participating in the video.
In 2006, Nintendo introduced the Wii console which is fitted with accelerometers in the controllers.
An accelerometer is a device that tracks and records movement.
Nintendo’s Wii Fit allowed players to track their weight, Basal Metabolic Index or BMI and performance in its fitness games.
In time, other software developers such as Microsoft and Sony released their own line of fitness games.
But will these fitness games or exergames make you fit?
There have been various studies done on the health and fitness benefits you can gain from these fitness games.
The findings are unanimous that participating in fitness games provides the following benefits:
1. Fitness games support light to moderate physical activity.
2. Energy expenditure from using fitness games is similar to walking or light jogging on a treadmill.
3. Preferred alternative activity by obese individuals or sedentary people over traditional exercise.
How many calories can you burn from fitness games?
Here is a breakdown of calorie expenditure per hour of exergaming:
Fitness Game & Calories Burned Per Hour
Golf – 186
Bowling – 234
Baseball – 270
Tennis – 318
Dancing – 318
Boxing – 432
Now let’s compare it with the calories burned by physically participating in these activities:
Physical Activity & Calories Burned Per Hour
Golf – 317
Bowling – 211
Baseball – 364
Tennis – 563
Dancing – 422
Boxing – 633
As you can see, with the exception of Bowling, you burn more calories by performing the physical activity more than the video game.
But calorie loss is just one component of being fit.
Fitness pertains to developing cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength, agility, flexibility, balance and coordination.
Thus, even though physical Bowling fell short in terms of calories burned, it has the advantage of helping you build strength, agility and coordination compared to the fitness game.
Fitness games or exergaming is a fun way to get some exercise in.
But it should never replace physical activity or exercise as the primary method to becoming fit.
So get off the couch, hit the gym or the park and get some real exercise!