Exergaming as Physical Activity

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Jackie Fernandez
April 12, 2011
Engl 102 – 080
Research Essay

“Let’s Get Physical, Physical…”
Physical inactivity is a serious health issue among children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends one hour of physical activity, daily, in order to stay healthy. While watching television is a favorite sedentary pastime and a popular choice of entertainment, the use of video games has been dominantly proliferate among children. Video gaming is often described as an unhealthy form of activity for children because it requires them to sit immobile in front of the television screen while engaging in these video games which condemns them to an unhealthy diet of inactivity. The time spent on video gaming has been steadily increasing. According to GRABstats.com, sixty-five percent of American households play computer or video games with twenty-five percent of those being children. Frequent use of video games has been linked to the increasing rates of child obesity as well as overweight children. Thirty-two percent of children are obese or overweight (Guy & et al. 2011). Since the growing rates of video game use and child obesity are directly proportional to each other, it has been suggested that high rates of video game use is a contributing factor in such a sedentary lifestyle. As these rates continue to rise, promoting physical activity is important. To promote physical activity, the gaming industry has simultaneously introduced a new form of video gaming called “exergaming”, which is the use of video games that provide physical exercise. The term “exergaming” derives from the words exercise and gaming (Exergamefitness.com). Exergames are interactive video games such as Wii Sports, Wii Fit for the Wii and Dance Central for the Xbox Kinect. These types of games require the player to get off their feet and virtually participate in the activity and therefore requiring a lot of movement. Exergaming promotes physical activity and as children love to play video games, interactive video games such as exergames provide a solution to increasing the rate of physical activity in children as well as lowering the rate of children overweight and child obesity.

With the inventions of the Nintendo Wii and Kinect for the Xbox 360*, video gaming is no longer frowned upon. Most children have access to television and a video game console at home and since the average child spends about thirteen hours of his/her time playing video game in one week (Brandenburg, 2008), why not use what they enjoy doing to promote and incorporate physical exercise? Based on the prevalence of video gaming, combining the idea of physical exercise with this sedentary behavior has become an effective method in increasing physical activity participation. Increasing physical activity improves the health of children. Exergames such as the Wii Sports, simulate activities such as boxing, tennis, baseball, etc. When playing these games, the participant goes through motions similar to that of the traditional sport. Instead of using the standard game controller, the controllers of the interactive video games are actually the participants themselves; it is their bodily movements that control what happens in the game. Virtually participating in the sport or activity in the comfort of their own home results in a lot of perspiration. This type of video game requiring the player to perform similar movements is actually helping children who play video games to be in better shape. Exergames improve the health of children because it gets them going, exposing them to movement as suppose to inactivity in traditional video games that require a lot of time sitting. Video games are indeed a fun pastime for children, and with the concept of exergames, they can keep fit while having fun. Video gamers who participate in these games are not only enjoying the video game, but they are incorporating physical activity in their day which assists in increasing the amount...
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