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How to Stay Fit Using Video Games | A Review of Workout Games for the Wii, the Playstation and the XBox

Updated on September 6, 2014

Exercise is a Key Component to Living a Long, Healthy Life


Wii Fit is One of the Most Popular Video Games Used to Increase Physical Activity

The Obesity Epidemic in America

Over the past two decades, obesity rates have skyrocketed in America. The causes of this growing epidemic include the increase in fast food intake, time-managment constraints that make exercising difficult, and the increase in technology which has drastically decreased physical activity for many adults and children.

These changes have led to the growing issue of weight management in America, where one-third of all adults are currently categorized as obese, as well as almost 25% of all children.

Being obese is not only unhealthy, but it is also costly. Those who are classified as obese are at much higher risk of suffering from conditions like diabetes, strokes, cancer and heart disease.

In 2008, the total cost of medical bills due to obesity was over $140 billion in the United States. Studies found that individuals who were obese wound up with an average of $2,000 more in medical bills than individuals not struggling with obesity.

The Growing Problem of Obesity and Predictions for this Epidimic in 2030

All Fitness TV is an App Designed to Keep You Active

Can Video Games Be the Key to Getting America Active?

Ten years ago the idea of using video games as a form of exercise would have sounded insane, but today the concept is far from crazy.

With more and more video game manufacturers designing games focusing on physical fitness, video game workouts could be the beginning to a fitness revolution in America.

According to Doctor William Bryant, chief science officer at the American Council on Excerise, video games like Wii Fit "are great for the person who hasn't been doing a whole lot, but for individuals who exercise quite a bit, it isn't going to be a huge challenge."

He does say however that "it has the ability to be a bit more challenging for those who are already engaging in physical activity. It's not a substitute, but it could certainly be a nice complement to a regular exercise program."

Watch this Video Covering the Top Five Fitness Games for Kinect XBOX

Do you feel that video games can be a helpful way to become more physically active?

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Dance Dance Revolution - The Beginning of a Gaming-Oriented Fitness Generation

Dance Dance Revolution will always be considered the game that started the video game workout craze. Released in 1998 in Japan, then in 1999 in Europe and the United States, DDR was one of the first video games to combine the components of gameplay with physical fitness. Since then, thousands of games have been released aimed at increasing physical activity levels and combatting the obesity problem worldwide.

A typical workout using Dance Dance Revolution consists of three songs, and lasts approximately fifteen minutes. The game comes with a pad with different colored arrows to step to the rhythm of the game. The idea is to complete the steps shown on the screen in congruence with the beat of the chosen song.

Although the game doesn't provide serious strength training, it can provide a solid cardio workout for those who play regularly, and opt for the more advanced levels available.

Dance Dance Revolution was such a big change for how we had been approaching physical fitness in America that some schools have started incorporating the game into their gym classes. The first school system to make this move was the West Virginia public elementary school system.

An Introduction to Nike+ Kinect Training

Want a Fun Way to Get More Exercise? Try Dance Dance Revolution

Would you ever consider adding a fitness oriented game into your workout routine?

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Great Games Designed to Strengthen Muscles and Increase Your Physical Activity

There are already a plethora of video games designed to help both children and adults increase their physical activity. No console is exempt anymore from providing games to help encourage individuals to start exercising, and all of them offer a wide variety of workouts, from cardio training to strength training.

Games for Wii to Help You Get Fit:

  • Dance Dance Revolution
  • Wii Fit
  • Zumba Fitness
  • Just Dance
  • EA Sports Active 2
  • Gold's Gym Cardio Workout

Games for XBox to Help You Get Fit:

  • Dance Dance Revolution
  • Nike+ Kinect
  • The Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout Challenge
  • Your Shape Fitness Evolved
  • EA Sports Active 2

Games for Playstation to Help You Get Fit:

  • Zumba Fitness
  • Sports Champion
  • EA Sports Active 2

Whether You Are an Exercise Buff or a Couch Potato, Video Games Can Provide Excellent Sources for Fun Physical Activity


Playstation's Sports Champion Bundle

A Consumer Report Study on Video Games and Fitness

Consumer Reports did a study covering the impact that fitness focused video games could have on a person's physical health.

For their study, they took five particular games and tracked the complexity of the movements in each game, how exciting each game was (in order to encourage continuous use needed for optimal health), as well as the extensiveness of both the game's skill based elements and conditioning elements.

The five games they used for the study included Zumba Fitness, Just Dance, Your Shape Fitness Evolved, Nike+ Kinect Training and UFC Personal Trainer. They used two of the company's in-house fitness experts and our resident gaming expert evaluate each game.

The study found that Your Shape Fitness Evolved was ideal for extremely sedentary individuals and worked well as a transition from a lifestyle with no exercise to a more active one. Overall, they found that this game wasn't involved enough to substitute for a more traditional workout routine, but was instead a good choice to add to a non-video game regimen.

UFC Personal Trainer also failed to pass the test, falling far too short in the amount of physical activity involved to be substituted for regular exercise. The testers did say that the game was a great way for those unfamiliar with boxing or mixed martial arts to get acclaimated to the sports, but wasn't intense enough to keep a person in shape.

Zumba Fitness was the game that got the second highest marks from Consumer Reports. The testers said that the game provides an intense cardio workout that is engaging and encourages users to continue playing consecutive days in a row. The only downside Consumer Reports found for the video game was that it lacked strength training and emphasized cardiovascular activity for the most part.

The top choice by Consumer Reports was Nike+ Kinect. Offering extensive, lengthy workouts combining both strength building and endurance building workouts, the game showed to be a great way to lose excess weight and increase muscle mass.

Just Dance 4 got the worst ratings, only excelling in one area, excitement and user engagement. Although the game proved to be fun to play, it didn't have intense enough components to be used as a form of exercise.

© 2014 Kathleen Odenthal


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    • muheebselfish profile image

      muheeb 3 years ago from pakistan


    • profile image

      shraddhachawla 3 years ago

      "Video games and physical fitness" that's a very innovative concept. Kathleen every time you have such wonderful concepts. Keep it up. Hair donation for a noble cause is another masterpiece. God bless pretty Rupenzel.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      I know several people who own these types of games and love working out with them. My house is too small to accommodate them. I tried the Zumba videos when they first came out, but I just don't have enough clear space in my living room to get an effective workout. I find dancing to the radio or a CD to be effective, I just don't do it often enough any more.

    • goatfury profile image

      Andrew Smith 3 years ago from Richmond, VA

      This is a very good concept for an article. I love the idea that technology can play a very positive role in our fitness as well as the other (more obvious) aspects of our lives. It's going to be more and more of a necessity as time goes on and VR becomes mainstream.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Great to point this stuff out. I think we will as a nation find a middle ground without a growing middle. The secret is in making money off of it.