Time Magazine says video games are worst at preventing a healthy lifestyle. But strangely, their recent article also states that video games are a great alternative. How can this be true? With stealth exercise that’s how!
The article gives ten top tips for getting kids moving in an effort to combat childhood obesity. It is interesting that the top tip is to limit screen time whilst the fourth is to obtain fitness from play. In one breath that advise that we pack away our games machines, only to extol the virtues of Dance Dance Revolution and various Wii games. Video games are portrayed as both the heroes and the villains of the battle with the BMI.
This got me thinking about how much of a part video games have played making us unfit and overweight and how people are reacting to video game exercise. The current obesity ‘crisis’ can be traced back to 20 years ago, and guess what, that’s roughly the same time as video games consoles started to be popular in people’s homes.
Games have always been fun, but this multi billion dollar industry now delivers the very best entertainment right to your console. Keeping you playing games rather than going outside and being active.
Extra technology during the same era pitches in with microwaves, dishwashers and at a similar time there was an explosion of new TV channels. Now meals can be as fast in the home as the quickest burger drive through and that’s a handy thing because there is so much more TV to watch. Video games are not alone in taking the activity out of life, but the level of incidental exercise we carry out in everyday life has fallen to almost nothing.
The article in Time Magazine scratches the surface of active gaming. It’s a shame they didn’t mention more accessories such as Eyetoy and Gamercize. These simple add-ons can turn games into exercise, and make it hard to make video games the villain of the nation’s fitness.
I work with both gaming and non-gaming fitness everyday, so I get to see many people with differing attitudes to exercise. Most people think exercise is a single activity and I work to help them see the exercise in everyday activities. Just like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or washing the car by hand instead of using an automatic car wash you can now add exercise to playing video games.
Active gaming is by far the most useful way to exercise by stealth. This way you have an engaging activity that just so happens to involve physical effort. Incidental exercise is the key to regain health and fitness because sustained exercise over the day works better than a half hour intense burn. Exercise by itself is too much to bear for most people in its intense format and certainly very hard to sustain. People want exercise by stealth as part of existing activities.
I visited my shopping centre today, and found Nintendo mob handed with Wii-Fits. Shiny white clad reps were pedaling the newest active gaming accessory to innocent passers by. If you believe all the hype on the net you would expect the stands to have been packed. But quite the reverse, people milled passed un-impressed by such a blatant attempt to get them doing some exercise! A few people moved closer out of curiosity, but the Wii-Fit’s were not selling.
If the article in Times Magazine tells us anything, it is that active gaming is being seen separately from traditional gaming. With the likes of Wii-Fit moving active gaming away from stealth exercise and more towards traditional exercise people will start to avoid it.
In my book, the genius of active gaming is its stealth approach to exercise. Let’s keep the focus on the gaming rather than the hard work, and you’ll be surprised how easy exercise becomes.
– Luke Pyper
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