“You aren’t going to sit in front of the TV all day are you?”
A common lament from parents who provide technology as an entertainment option to children. And who could blame them? There is nothing more upsetting than seeing kids transfixed to the computer or television on a sunny day when they should be outside exercising their young bodies, building strength and coordination rather than wasting away on the sofa.
What we also know particularly in North America is the burgeoning effect of a sedentary lifestyle particularly on children. Child obesity rates are on the rise globally but in the United States alone. According to the World Health Organization WHO © “… childhood obesity is already epidemic in some areas and on the rise in others. An estimated 22 million children under five are estimated to be overweight worldwide…”
According to WHO’s “Global Strategy On Diet, Physical Activity and Health” the reasons for the increase is the growing disparity between calorie consumption and physical activity. Again, we know this and it’s common sense but the reality is that the more technologically advanced we become the less hard we work our bodies on a daily basis. We work longer hours. We sleep less and devote less time to healthful food preparation opting for time saving convenience foods loaded in saturated fats, sugar and sodium. While the WHO recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day. Given our hectic lifestyles we get no where close to that goal and these bad habits have been inherited by children.
This season’s hottest gifts for gaming enthusiasts are poised to solve at least part of the problem and guaranteed to get us moving again. “Exergaming” is the buzz word for software and gaming programs that require physical interaction in order to operate. The landmark pioneer in this movement was of course the Nintendo Wii which necessitated arm movement of the gamer to play games such as golf, hockey, baseball and more. The Wii Fit™ remains popular for beginners who are interested in learning how to incorporate physical activity into their indoor lifestyle.
But step aside Nintendo. You aren’t the only game in town now!
A new generation of “body as avatar” or “human joystick” games have been released for holiday gift giving. The buzz is all about Microsoft’s introduction of KINECT© for the Xbox™ which utilizes the players body parts (no console required) to engage in game movements.
There are currently eight games for Xbox 360 Kinect which are Dance Central, Kinectimals, Kinect Sports, Kinect Joy Ride, Your Shape, Kinect Adventures, Zumba Fitness, and Sonic Freeriders. While the Xbox 360 Kinect is high on my own personal Holiday Wish List I think I will bide my time and wait for more games to be released before I commit to the purchase of the system. Some reports have indicated that the white glove selection method doesn’t work as well and that the camera can at times get confused between movement and menu selection. Perhaps sometime next year when they have had the opportunity to work out a couple of the glitches that would bother me.
Nevertheless I am excited about what the console and games would mean for our family in terms of increasing our physical weekly exercise and providing hours and hours of fun!
The “Games for Health” module of the ePatient Connections conference held in Philadelphia in September 2010 discussed the health benefits of the new “Exergaming” trend and stated that while increasing mobility and fitness over all, successful weight loss required wholesale lifestyle changes in the areas of diet, stress and healthy living. It noted that such games would be an excellent supplement (but never a replacement for) a doctor supervised diet plan.
Obesity is frequently the stereotypical hallmark and profile of a serial gamer. The trend is not to expect a reduction of digital entertainment but to incorporate our fitness needs in with our favourite games. And make it fun! And perhaps that is why the “exergaming” trend is expected to take off in such a big way.
We don’t have to feel so guilty playing games anymore. Exergaming classes are already offered through schools and at local gyms as an innovative addition to exercise plans. Will they be offered in virtual worlds such as Second Life™ in the future? Who knows?
What we do know is that it is technology that will literally re-shape us having found a way to make exercise fun, safe and convenient (a key to make us stick with it) and buck the growing obesity epidemic working toward a healthier future for us all.
Source: Web December 12, 2010