Do you need to lose weight and get in shape? Do you hate the thought of spending hours at the gym? Using your gaming console as a fitness trainer, a process known as exergaming, can be a good way to help reach your goal of living a healthier lifestyle. While playing video games was traditionally a very sedentary activity, many of today's titles are designed to encourage players to get up and move. The amount of physical exertion required to play these games varies according to the title and the level of difficulty you select, but most provide a light to moderate intensity workout.
The Nintendo Wii is the most popular video console for exergaming, but there are also games available for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. If you are planning to purchase a console and are on a tight budget, keep in mind that the Nintendo Wii is the cheapest option and comes with a basic Wii Sports disc that provides a good introduction to the concept of using your gaming console as an exercise aid. However, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 do have other options that may make them a more attractive choice if you plan to use your console for more than just promoting fitness in your home.
Many exergaming titles for the Nintendo Wii, such as the original version of My Fitness Coach, require no special equipment. However, a growing number of Wii games do require the purchase of the Wii Fit and Wii Balance Board in order to take advance of their full functionality. Exergaming for the Xbox 360 requires the purchase of the Kinect input device. Exergaming for the PlayStation 3 provides requires the purchase of the PlayStation Move.
When using your gaming console as a fitness trainer, it's important to pick titles that focus on the types of activity you enjoy. Many exercise video games focus on dance routines, but there are also titles with martial arts, boxing, running, yoga, and aerobics moves. If you're not sure what type of game you might like, consider renting a few titles from your local video store before making a purchase. Using your gaming console as a fitness trainer only works if you pick a game you are eager to play on a regular basis.
While exercise video games are intended to be a fun form of physical activity, you still need to follow all of the same basic safety precautions you'd use when working out at the gym. It's a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider before beginning a regular exercise program, especially if you have medical issues that limit your mobility. Stretch before exercising, drink plenty of fluids, and take a short break if you start to show signs of overexertion.
The majority of newer exercise game titles provide a mechanism for tracking your progress within the game itself. Unfortunately, this data will be inaccurate if you prefer to play more than one title on a regular basis. Therefore, it's a good idea to jot down your progress in a separate notebook. You can find online tools to estimate the number of calories you've burned during your workout based on your age, gender, and current weight. As a general rule of thumb, however, you'll burn the most calories from dancing and boxing oriented games.
Most people who are interested in using exercise games to promote physical fitness plan to workout on their own, but numerous studies have shown that exercising with a friend can make it easier to stick to a regular workout plan. Wii Sports allows you to play many of the featured activities with up to four players. Just Dance 3, regardless of which console version you purchase, can be played with up to four people as well.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that you aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. If you can't handle playing an exercise game for this long, it's fine to play for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening or to combine 15 minutes of play with a brisk walk after dinner. As long as you're gradually increasing your level of physical activity, you'll be working to improve your overall wellbeing.
Since exercise video games are a relatively recent development, further study is needed to fully assess the benefits they can offer. However, preliminary research suggests these games can be beneficial in promoting healthy lifestyle choices. For example, studies on the benefits of exergaming that focus on overweight children have found that these games can help kids feel less self-conscious about their bodies. In many cases, children in the studies also expressed a greater interest in more traditional forms of exercise after being exposed to exercise video games.