“Exergames” Help Kids Lose Weight”

Dance Dance Revolution, a video game in which players compete to keep up with dance steps to popular music, is helping kids lose weight. West Virginia school officials implemented Dance Dance Revolution in all public schools as part of a statewide physical education initiative. An evaluation of the program found that the games improve the fitness levels of regular participants.

While typical video games keep kids sedentary and encourage overweight, industry leaders are redesigning games to promote active “exergaming.” Technology and health experts note that games such as DDR, and the new Nintendo Wii, a virtual reality gaming console that players use to act out sports such as tennis and bowling, can increase children’s physical activity levels.

Other benefits include the ability to stay active in inclement weather or urban areas where there is limited ability for outside play. In addition, children not interested in sports may find these games to be a fun alternative.

This blog post on “serious games”, which includes exergames, describes a presentation by Dr. Lieberman, a media researcher and faculty at UC Santa Barbara, which highlights early outcomes and future studies to explore the ability of these games to help kids lose weight.

I played DDR in one of my grad school classes in digital technology. I consider myself a very active, fit person. This game made me break a serious sweat and I had a great time listening to my favorite tunes. I don’t need a zillion studies to know that this game will help kids and adults who play regularly be more active. My professor, who used to weigh almost 300 pounds, lost 50 pounds playing DDR.

What do you think? Have you played DDR or any other exergame? What was your experience? Do you have stories of success or do you think this is just a passing fad?

At a first glimpse, it appears we have now reached a new low in our technologically advance society: video games for exercise. The sound of “video games instead of PE” is enough to make a child want to go to school every day. The real question is if it actual works. Can active video games like Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) fulfill what a child would learn in physical education? DDR encompasses many benefits such as physical activity, body-eye coordination, mental activity, and fun. It provides physical fitness hidden in the form of fun (video games). Although DDR is classified as a video game, it provides enough physical activity that many states have nationally implemented DDR as physical education for children. All these traits are beneficial to physical and mental health but does high-paced dancing in front of a television screen really provide a growing child with everything they need? By using video games as a form of exercise, many habits usually learned in sports are neglected. In DDR, the television becomes the teacher. Immediately, social and personal interactions are no longer being taught. Children are not being taught or educated on how to be and remain healthy. DDR’s ability to cause physical activity in such a simple (and hidden) manner makes DDR extremely beneficial to the inactive children growing up in America.