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So You’ve Decided To…Get In Shape By Playing Video Games

[ 1 ] April 13, 2012 |

If you’re like me, you have many, many things on your “to do” list and far too little time to scratch them off of that list. First and foremost, for many of us, is to either stay in shape or get in shape. Many a New Year’s resolution has been made by saying, “This year, I resolve to finally get in the shape I should be in.” For me, personally, that resolution has been a yearly fixture for the last number of years. It’s not that I don’t want to get in shape, or that others who make this same resolution don’t want to, but things tend to come up and for many of us, we sacrifice a gym day or exercise class for something else. As time goes by, the excuse to skip out on our resolutions get easier and easier to justify, and just like that, we’re back at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, making the same promise….and this time we mean it.

This year, however, I have finally been able to make some headway thanks to an unlikely aid. I always knew that the Nintendo Wii provided an excellent workout. Having owned one for years, I always enjoyed playing Wii Sports and I could definitely appreciate the workout that playing this game offered me.  What I didn’t do however, was look at the Wii or even my Xbox 360 as anything other than entertainment based consoles and not necessarily tools to use for getting in shape. I largely ignored the workout based releases on both consoles as neither interesting nor something I thought would work.

That attitude held up for years until I discovered an NFL Training Camp game. Hey, I love football and the price was right (severely discounted online) so I decided to give it a go. I was pleasantly surprised at

      • A) The fun I had in using this game/workout program and
      • B) How much it kicked my butt…but in a good, getting healthier kinda way.

My only question before getting into this on a regular basis was, will this be sufficient as a method of getting in shape and not having to leave the comfort of my own living room. So I asked an expert.

Brad McKay, a private personal trainer, from Halifax, NS, gave us the lowdown on what he thinks of console exercise, “The workout experience you’re getting from these games is very real in terms of burning calories and getting in shape.” Adding, “The games on the gaming consoles offer a good alternative to a gym workout for most folks. The concept isn’t really new, as we’ve had work out shows on television forever and there’s no shortage DVDs on the market that cover everything from Tai Chi to Zumba. The only difference is the medium.”

I know, I know, you’re asking, “But Craig, what’s the catch? This sounds too good to be true.” Okay, well there are a couple of things to keep in mind when considering console exercise.  McKay said, “Users need to be mindful of a couple of things when using these games. First, there are certain limitations to what kind of information the games can give you, and it’s based largely off of balance and weight. The game may say you’re overweight as it can’t tell if you’re an extremely healthy person and you have a greater muscle mass.  That’s one drawback from going to a gym or working with a trainer, you’re not getting a truly interactive and intuitive experience. You may want to take some of what you are presented with a grain of salt.”

Courtesy of Sync.ca

Another thing that McKay didn’t expressly cover when I spoke with him, that you may want to consider is that, at least for developers with Nintendo, their Wii Fit games and Wii Sports were not meant to be a replacement to traditional forms of exercise. Instead they are meant to compliment what you’re already doing, or to encourage you to try some of the activities or sports you find when using the games.

The last thing I think some people may consider is the social experience that comes along with the use of a console. The gym or work out classes can be intimidating to some people, especially if you don’t feel comfortable around strangers, and that can turn you off from going on a regular basis. Consoles offer what can be a fun and social experience. It’s easier to be goofy and move around and grunt with a friend playing Tennis on the Wii then playing racquet ball at the gym.  This also helps to build up confidence in what you can and cannot do, and helps to get you ready for a more traditional gym experience.

In closing, after looking at more of the details surrounding a console based workout experience I have to say, yes, this is something I’m going make a part of my routine.  There’s an accessibility of use that exists as I try to work around a busy schedule and , perhaps more importantly, a budget. However, I’m not going to make this the only avenue I use. We are quickly approaching the summer months and I for one plan on making the most of what our beautiful Canadian summer has to offer.  Get out, enjoy the fresh air, but on those rainy or lazy days, you’ll find me on the Wii.

For more tips on how you can get involved in outdoor fitness why not check out our other article – “Summer Fitness: Time To Ditch The Gym Pass” 

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Category: Cheap Thrills

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  1. {JAMES says:

    this is hilarious thanks for posting. $

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