Video games are often cited as contributing to the increase in childhood obesity but that may be changing – at least a little bit. Kids who play a lot of video games have traditionally spent a lot of time sitting and being inactive in front of a glowing screen. With the new trend in “exergaming” players have to be physically active to play the video games (http://www.localnewswatch.com/jordanfalls/stories/index.php?action=fullnews&id=66806). This is different from sending kids outside to play but it is still active plying. The trend in exergaming seems to have started with Dance Dance Revolution where players dance to music on a special game mat. However, it has been taken to a new level by Nintendo with its new Wii system which has controllers that requires whole body movement by the player to paly the games. The Wii has elicited differing opinions amount obesity experts and among children and their parents. Some argue that anything that makes video games more attractive will not help the obesity problem, but others argue that moving about while playing video games is a great way to increase physical activity. It would be better if kids learned about the joys of exercise and being physically active outdoors, but we have not done very well in doing that. I am personally open to using exergaming to help with the problem of childhood obesity. I am happy that researchers are beginning to study the impact of exergaming on body weight of kids and this will help us learn more about its impact. My own opinion is that we should embrace exergaming as one way to increase physical activity. I give Nintendo a lot of credit for developing this game system. If children are spending a lot of time playing video games and if we have not been successful in reducing the time they spend playing games, lets embrace this new type of gaming. Now I would be disappointed if we did not also work to increase physical activity in other ways (such as going outside to play), but we have an urgent need to get our kids more active and this seems to me to be one way to do it now. Video games have traditionally appealed to body and it is also interesting that adults and girls are playing the Wii. Exergaming is here to stay and let’s figure out how to make this a positive for childhood obesity. Cudos to Nintendo for showing how they can be part of the solution to the obesity epidemic.
Exergame Fitness USA
Exergaming Research & Testing Center
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