A combination of the words “exercise” and “gaming,” exergaming is a term that has been coined for those video games that may also serve as a form of exercise. Although its roots can be traced back to the late 1980s, the more commonly-known sources of exergaming stem from Konami’s release of Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) for the Sony Playstation near the turn of the 21st Century. In this game, the player(s) step on a game pad that has arrows on it which correspond to arrows that appear on the TV screen. This game encourages aerobic activity while playing, versus the sedentary style of most video games. In recent years, exergaming has taken on new forms – from the Nintendo Wii as an individual gaming system to add-ons of current gaming systems, like the Kinect for Xbox 360 and the Move for Playstation.
So, how effective are these forms of exergaming at helping the family stay physically fit? While these active video games are certainly more physically demanding than their sedentary counterparts, a study in the British Medical Journal found that active Wii games specifically does not provide intensity at a level high enough to contribute to the recommended daily level of physical activity for children.
All in all, the general consensus regarding exergaming seems to be that it is definitely better than the sedentary video games that we all know and love, but it still does not replace classic forms of exercise such as going outside and playing. You can do your family a favor by only playing the exergames as a way to break up monotony in your family’s active lifestyle. Spend some time as a family playing sports outside, and save the exergaming for the rainy days.