If you’ve ever made a Mii, or if you know what DDR stands for, or if you’ve exercised using a balance board, then you’ve probably tried exergaming.
That’s right, the new style of video game that requires the player to get off the couch and move a little bit has officially prompted a new vocbulary word: exergaming. I’m talking games like Wii Sports, Dance Dance Revolution, and EA Sports.
This Baltimore Sun article reports that the American Academy of Pediatrics has officially declared that playing these kinds of video games can be considered exercise. Indeed, a recent study in the research journal Pediatrics found that playing the more intense ones – like Wii Boxing – was equivalent to moderate-intensity walking.
Honestly, this doesn’t really surprise me. We own a Wii, and I have definitely worked up quite a sweat beating playing Dave in match after match of tennis, or swinging over and over again in a baseball homerun derby. Indeed, many “relaxing” Friday evenings with the Wii have left me tired and sore the following day!
But does this really mean that video-game buffs can now swing, punch, and dance their way into decent physical shape, all in front of the television? It’s questionable. Like everything in life, it’s all about balance. Wii Tennis can never take the place of picking up a racket, acing a serve, sprinting across the court – you know, actually playing tennis. Skiing down the virtual slopes will never be as good – both physically and mentally – as feeling the chill on your face at the top of an actual snowy mountain.
In other words, as the article states, “exergaming beats sitting around staring at the screen…but those games don’t provide as much benefit as participating in actual sports.”
Overall, I think exergames are a great way to add a physical component to an otherwise sedentery activity. They also make moving fun by adding the element of playful competition. But they’re never going to replace fitness centers and walking trails. While they make a great addition to a workout routine, there will be always be something special about old-fashioned exercise, no technology required.
So have you exergamed? If so, which type of exergame did you play? Did you enjoy it?
Do you think people can get a good workout from things like Wii and Dance Dance Revolution?