Friday, March 2, 2012

Turning Couch Potato Time into Exercise Time

     The numbers are scary. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10.4% of children age 2-5 are obese, as are nearly 20% of kids age 6-19, and 33.9% of adults older than 20. America has a weight issue. 

     Much of the blame goes to our addiction to fast foods and snacks. The truth is, just as much blame should go to our televisions. According to Nielson, Americans spend an average of four hours a day in front of their TVs. This amounts to about nine years of our lives that we spend watching TV! There are two ways to solve this problem. The first is to limit the time you and your children spend in front of a TV. The second, and more fun, solution is to take your couch potato time and convert it into exergaming time.

     What is “exergaming” you ask? Exergaming is the new term used to describe video games that ask gamers to exercise while they play. Exergaming isn’t an entirely new idea – games like Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution have been around since the late nineties. But now there are more than ever, thanks to the Nintendo Wii, Microsoft’s Kinect, and Sony’s Move Controllers. Let’s look at the most popular “exergames” for each of these systems:

Wii Fit Plus (Nintendo Wii)     

Wii Fit Plus is the follow up to Nintendo’s popular Wii Fit game. It makes use of the Wii balance board controller, which gathers information such as weight and body mass index. You can then tell the game what your target weight is and it will suggest different workout routines that are made up of short “mini-games.” Games include obstacle courses, skiing, jogging, and tightrope walking.

Dance Central and Dance Central 2 (Xbox 360 with Kinect) 

While these games are not specifically made to be fitness games, they are still great options for losing weight and having fun at the same time. Both games feature popular songs from artists like Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, and Usher. The games use the Xbox 360 Kinect sensor to track the gamers’ dance moves and score them based on accuracy. The average calories burned during an hour of dancing are around 400 calories for a man and 350 for a woman!

Sports Champions (Playstation 3 with Playstation Move) 

Sports Champions features six different sports-themed games to get you out of your chair and moving. The game makes use of Sony’s Playstation move controller to track your movements in each of the different games. The games included are disc golf, beach volleyball, archery, table tennis, bocce ball, and gladiator duel.

     So, the next time you or your kids sit down on the couch for a marathon session of TV, consider playing one of these games instead. Your scale and your body will thank you.

By Shawn McNally


  1. My whole family loves Wii Fit Plus. It has something for everyone.

  2. Good article. I am going to get a Wii Fit Plus for my family. Thanks!