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As seen on: Be Fit With Biray
Original Article Here: http://befitwithbiray.com/2008/06/06/exergames-gain-momentum/

The field of exergaming and ‘games for health’ continue to grow. The momentum is strong and the scientists, programmers and health/fitness professionals have been rapidly pushing its research, development, and application. I’ve been following and even participating in some of these discussions, and I thought I’d share some highlights from the past few weeks!

Last month’s Games For Health Conference brought interesting topics to the table in the area of exergaming. Although I was unable to attend the conference this year, most of the powerpoint presentations have been made available on SlideShare for viewing. Check out the Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) presentation which discusses how exergames and healthcare combine (they have been working together with Ernie Medina, Jr and XRTainment Zone). Another interesting note: Hope Lab’s motto “Lead with Fun, Health Will Follow” seems to be the attitude to have when developing games. Check out their presentation which also features the results of their mega-gaming contest Ruckus Nation. Also, although we hear about kids being the focus of most exergamming programs, DanceTown has designed an interesting game for ‘Gray Gamers’ (elder population). This is just the tip of the iceberg, 33+ other slideshows from the conference that have also been uploaded.

I also had a chance last month to meet with exergame physiologist Alasdair Thin, PhD. All the way from Scotland, his 3-week American tour included the Games For Health Conference in Baltimore and visits with fellow exergamers across the nation, with stops into Florida, California, and Canada. I was delighted to host the Phoenix leg of his trip. We spent the day talking about the G4H conference (check out his presentation on Designing Body-Movement Controlled Video Games to Maximize Energy Expenditure) and discussing various topics in gaming, technology, health education/promotion. (Our conversations were also inspired by the 2-hour hike up Squaw Peak Mountain – breathtaking!) Alasdair’s visit coincided with the US launch of the Wii-Fit (which was launched in the UK months earlier, so he already had one). One key question he left me with to ponder: “What makes a perfect exergame?”

I connected with the world’s first Exergaming Personal Trainer! Luke Pyper (from the UK) actually trains clients from their homes using various exergames! He has a group on Facebook “Keeping Fit with Video Game Consoles” and also writes various articles for GamePeople where he tackles various games and does exhaustive reviews of them – check out his verdict on Dance Dance Revolution.

And fellow group fitness instructor/trainer Raina Casarez (aka Penda), the Goddess of Virtual Fitness, launched a “Let’s Get Moving Community Fitness Day” in Atlanta located at ‘Welcome All Park & Facilities’. Group exercise instructors, personal trainers, yoga and dancers instructors gathered to showcase their innovative fitness classes to the community (for free!). Penda, of course, demonstrated her Wii and Dance Dance Revolution classes! Many instructors had not been exposed to video games, and for some, it was their first experience with these games. Although the event was to get the community moving, Penda’s goal was to get fellow fitness professionals excited about exergaming! Listen to her radio show episode that discusses details of the event here!

Innovation is everywhere, as you can clearly see! Exergames have arrived and are being incorporated into all aspects of health and fitness. This will advance our industry in ways we’ve never imagined and change the way we teach and train people around the world!

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