Video games can be for more than just play. The right games can improve your health and fitness. However, some games serve this purpose better than others do.
When you use a video games console to track your exercise routine, it is important that the console be able to determine that you using the proper form when doing exercises. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Kinnect is better than the Sony PlayStation and the Nintendo Wii because the Kinnect tracks the movement of your entire body, not just the movement of the handheld controller.
In addition to tracking how you perform the exercises, the game should structure the exercise routines properly. Exercise routines should start with a warm-up period. Conditioning exercises should follow the warm up, and finally, the routine should end with cool down exercises.
Exercises included with the game should be appropriate for the type of conditioning they are supposed to provide. Aerobic exercises that target cardiovascular conditioning should increase your heart rate. Repetitions of exercises to improve muscle strength and endurance should produce muscle fatigue, and exercises to increase flexibility should stretch muscles.
For the game to be the most useful for families, it should include routines for people at all fitness levels, and the routines should provide increasing challenges as people become more fit.
Finally, for those who complain that exercising is boring or for those who want to take breaks from their routines, the game should include fitness activities such as dance routines or games like tennis or dodge ball that provide something fun to do. After all, if someone becomes bored and doesn’t keep using the game, then the game does nothing to improve that person’s fitness.
All family members may not be at the same level of fitness, and all family members may not have the same interest in becoming fit. The two video games for kids and families below take those two possibilities into account.
Your Shape for Wii U is rated ESRB: Everyone 10+. It mixes fitness and fun and offers entry-level exercises for muscular endurance. The game includes a multiplayer mode for up to four people. A virtual trainer demonstrates all of the exercises onscreen as they are explained. These conditioning exercises are based mainly on aerobic moves that are performed at low to moderate intensity. The routines consist of three to four exercises and variations that are repeated circuit-style, and some of the routines end with a series of abdominal crunches. Warm up and cool down routines are available but must be added separately. Consequently, it is up to each person to structure his or her workout properly. However, each person can also customize his or her workout, and if you set a fitness goal, the game’s Fitness Pal feature will recommend healthy meals and menus to help you reach that goal. The user profile includes your height, weight, age, and sex, so the game does accurately track the calories burned. You earn virtual coins for burning calories, and you can use them in the game to purchase new workout routines, new dances, or new outfits for the onscreen trainers. The game also awards medals as you reach your fitness goals.
Nike+ Kinect Training for Xbox 360 is also rated ESRB: for everyone. Although it adjusts to varying fitness levels and does include some fun activities, this game is really for those who are dedicated to becoming fit. The game offers a choice of a male of female virtual trainer. It also evaluates the fitness and athleticism of each person and provides the option of choosing a fitness goal such as strength building, toning, or weight loss. The game then customizes a suitable training program. There are also two preset workouts – the Quick Start and the 5 Minute Sessions options. Some of the strength building exercises require weights that do not come with the game. The Kinect sensor, which tracks the movements of the whole body, represents exercisers on the screen with blocky avatars that duplicate their movements. Most of the time, you can watch your onscreen avatar to make sure that you are doing the exercises properly. However, during some exercises, you are not able to look at the screen and maintain proper form. While the virtual trainers give some verbal feedback, most of the corrections come from onscreen visual aids. If you are not supposed to be looking at the screen, you won’t see these corrections. Further, the Kinect sensor sometimes misses and thus miscounts repetitions of exercises. Again, if you are not looking at the screen, you may not realize that your reps have been miscounted. If you want to take a break from exercising and have some fun, you can try jumping virtual hurdles, playing dodge ball, or guiding your onscreen avatar through an opening in a pane of glass. While this game draws upon a vast library of exercises to create well-rounded, challenging, well-paced routines, there are more lower body than upper body exercises, and the game does better with building cardiovascular fitness and muscle endurance than it does with developing strength. Also, many of the exercises and activities involve hopping and jumping. Those who are not yet relatively fit should improve their fitness level before attempting those activities.
Free Online Video Games for Health and Fitness
While they mainly exercise your game-playing muscles, several sites offer free fitness games that can be downloaded or played online. They may, at least, get you thinking about fitness and introduce you to exercises and activities you may want to try in the offline world. These include Games.com, Shockwave.
Used Video Games
The classified ads on Bikroy.com can be an excellent source for used video games and game consoles.
With these guidelines, you should be able to find the right fitness games for you and your family.