I was fascinated with the Wii as soon as it came out. I’m not attracted to most traditional video games, but the idea of being able to dance competitively is intriguing. (My nieces love playing Just Dance against me when I come to visit, and I’ve been dying to try the Michael Jackson dance game ever since it came out.)
While I personally wouldn’t use such games as the core of my fitness regimen, I do believe that there is a place for them in both fitness and rehabilitation. It was a pleasure to talk to a couple of our PTPN members about how such games fit into both worlds.
Can video games help you stay fit?
When the Wii gaming system was introduced in 2006, the video game market was forever changed. No longer did playing a video game mean sitting on the couch and exercising your thumbs — and nothing else. The Wii, and other movement-based gaming systems like it (notably the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3), allows players to get off that couch and break a sweat.
While nothing is better than traditional exercise, outdoors or in, such games are much more fitness-friendly than conventional, non-movement based video games. Nicole Puzio, a physical therapist at Conshohocken Physical Therapy (a Physiquality network clinic in Pennsylvania), points out that “those participating may improve hand to eye coordination, as well as reaction times.” One recent study of the use of such games in PE classes found that student participation more than doubled when some schools used games like Dance Dance Revolution and Just Dance to encourage student activity. These games have also been shown to increase energy expenditure and heart rate, proving their benefits over traditional video games.