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07/01/2009 Family Fit Gamer Article
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Exergaming Essentials

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As a personal trainer January is my busiest time of year. After all the holiday excesses and inactivity everyone is wants to make a fresh start and get themselves back in shape for the summer months.

But this year Gym membership is definitely down. Maybe people are looking to electronic fitness as a cheaper alternative, in these tighter financial times. In this Exergaming Fundamentals article, I ask 'Can video games be exercise?'

If you want to take up running or swimming to improve your fitness for the New Year, you know you're going to be breaking a sweat and getting fitter. The same is also true for exercise video games - known as Exergaming. The four mainstream home Exergaming systems all get you moving and count towards a good cardio workout in the comfort and privacy of your own home.

The undisputed king of the cardio workout here is Wii-Sports Boxing.

Wii-Sports: I love Nintendo's opening gambit into the Exergaming world for introducing exercise and video games to a whole new population. I've reviewed Wii-Sports, and the undisputed king of the cardio workout here is Wii-Sports Boxing. The game that will keep you coming back for more, however, is Wii tennis. My advice here is: don't sit on the couch to play, get up and get moving! Look to burn around 200 calories an hour with Tennis, even more with Boxing.

Wii-Fit: There's been a mixed reception to Wii-Fit from my personal training clients, mainly due to some inaccuracies in the BMI measurement it hands out on a daily basis. My advice here is to not worry too much about the daily tends or the absolute numbers. Take a look at you statistics over the weeks. To really get moving by far the best choice is the jogging minigame. You'll be putting out around 300 calories per hour, so keep on running towards a fitter Mii.

Dance Dance Revolution: The game that was joining exercise and gaming before anyone knew what Exergaming was all about is still hot. Since my review here, dancing has now made it onto the Wii. I hope to be reviewing this new version soon, but for now, Sony and Microsoft fans count on about 400 calories an hour while you dance the fat away. This is now getting into the ball park of real exercise, a splash about in the pool or a jog to the store.

Real fitness benefits come by repeating this activity.

Gamercize Pro-Sport Stepper: While burning calories is one aim of exercise, real fitness benefits come by repeating this activity. So, if you find fitness titles boring and want to plug into your favourite franchise to keep you interested then the Gamercize stepper is for you. Only allowing play while exercising, the physical effort becomes second nature while you blast away at up to 600 calories an hour.

There are exergames for all ranges of physical activity, and all provide genuine exercise when used correctly. If you have decided not to renew your gym membership this year, then Exergaming can provide a decent alternative. Bear in mind the help and support of the gym staff will be missing, so it's up to you to find a personal trainer, exercise buddy or the determination to go it alone. Good luck!

Written by Luke Pyper

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Luke Pyper writes the Fit Gamer column.

"As a trained professional fitness coach I bring an informed and balanced take on fitness video games. I cover Xbox 360, PS3, Wii-Fit, DS lite and PSP games from a gym, health and fitness angle."

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