Exergaming – Can Modern Video Games Be a Real Form of Exercise

exercise with video gamesWe’re rooted firmly in a world where most of us are panting, corpulent adults, in desperate need of a radical lifestyle change. Kids (not surprisingly) have joined the clan too. Studies have shown that video games can spice things up for those who detest the idea of working out, by adding a little fun to the fitness mix. So, can modern video games be a form of exercise?

Exergaming (ek-ser-gey-ming)
Noun: The act of playing a video game that requires physical exertion to perform, much like conventional exercising.

In the 1980s, no one ever considered physical activity as a crucial ingredient in the recipe of life. Video games were anything but active in nature. Kids would park themselves on the couch, before engaging their already fried brains with mindless gaming. When fitness related games released in the ’80s, they didn’t do so well.

The first of its kind was Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution, a game that took dancing to a whole new level. The makers of PlayStation stepped in and took over, turning the beloved arcade game into an accessible video game, that you could play within the confines of your home. No more embarrassing dance moves in public, that’s for sure!

Because the transition from arcade to PlayStation did pretty well (with sales skyrocketing to over 3 million copies sold), other companies’ interests were piqued, thus, following in close pursuit. Nintendo released Wii Fit a couple of years after EyeToy (by PlayStation) hit the shelves in 2003. It subsequently conceived what is called today as exergaming, a portmanteau of the words ‘exercise’ and ‘gaming’. Many have voiced the question whether video games can be a form of exercise. We say, why not?

How Are Modern Video Games a Form of Exercise?
While exergaming isn’t a neoteric concept, it has gained a loyal following of fans over the years, post the 2000s. Today, we’re all about getting fit and trying to squeeze into a favorite pair of skinny jeans (or that two piece bikini lying in the back of the closet), but how staunch are we when it comes to fitness? Don’t we easily tire from the same exercise routine? Luckily for you, and today’s lackadaisical kids exergaming has been deemed an actual form of exercise.

– Frangible Promises

Many of us have uttered the same, overused, earnest promise, one too many times to exercise, follow a diet that is devoid of noxious food, and lose weight (hopefully), by the end of the year. A week into the exercise routine, all hell breaks loose laziness sets in, then dejection, and finally, you give up.

The Good News
A crazed, heart pumping video game session that lasts for a couple of hours is exactly what you need. And, you can’t wait to do it all over again! It’s the enthusiasm that counts, and not the act itself. Research proclaims that the benefits of exergaming are exponential if performed regularly, combined with a low calorie diet. Unknowingly, you are putting your body under strenuous conditions, forcing it to burn a few (if not a lot of) calories. If done habitually, the perks of such an activity are quite rewarding.

– Dwindling Health

Most of us have the proclivity to slip into an unhealthy lifestyle, where doctors strongly, but unsuccessfully, lay emphasis on how obesity will one day take over the world, one plump person at a time. Kids are increasingly growing in girth because of a sedentary lifestyle, where cafeterias too, are partly to blame for the shocking food choices available.

The Good News
Video games can help youngsters get active, by doing something they can’t tire from easily. A lot of games have the ability to keep players engaged for hours, where one’s heart rate is well above the criteria to qualify an exergame, as an exercise. How? Measure your resting heart rate by placing your first two fingers against either the ‘carotid artery’ in the neck, or the ‘radial artery’ in the wrist.

Count the heart beats produced within 10 seconds, and then multiply that number into 60. This should give your resting heart rate number per minute. After you’re done playing an exergame that requires adequate vigor, check your heart rate immediately, it should be more than half (at least) of your resting rate number. In this way, you’ll know that the activity just won itself a ‘qualified exercise’ badge. Your games should be anything that involves boxing, tennis, or dancing, since according to WebMD, these burn the highest calories.

– Whittled Waistline Dreams

All of us want bikini bods, but not working towards such a dream or throwing in some bit of effort, is just plain unfair for your body. It’s no secret that without the involvement of exercise, especially support from family/friends, a person cannot lose weight the right way. Healthy eating habits coupled with some form of physical activity is what one needs most. It’s simple, if you don’t burn more calories than how much you eat, you won’t lose weight. Even if you’re doing everything right, the equation is a stubborn stark truth.

The Good News
Exergaming just got interesting. You can include family and friends to join in, to make it a healthier and combined effort that benefits not just you, but everyone you care about. Make it a habit to perform exergaming for at least one hour every day, and you’re sure to notice a difference in your physique. Also, kids should be encouraged to play outdoors and not rely entirely on exergaming.

Boredom might eventually set in, so alternate between an actual sport (or an activity you love) and exergaming. The idea is to keep experimenting with various forms of physical activity, to give your body a great workout every time you get down to it.

The Bottom Line

You can’t substitute actual exercise for exergaming, but you can include it as a part of your routine. Help the kids stay fit, or lose the premature weight gain by including not just exergaming, but outdoor sports as well. Grownups can indulge in a good session of gaming over the weekends, while taking a break from the gym. But don’t let exergaming rule your life. While it is a great form of aerobics, it shouldn’t be substituted for the hardcore stuff.

Exergaming can do wonders for cardiovascular health, so don’t shy away from the gaming console. Involve others to take part in this form of exercise, to help them experience the highs of being physically active. The gaming consoles that work best for exergaming? Those would be the Nintendo Wii Fit, Kinect for Xbox 360, and PlayStation Move.