Why Fitness Gaming Technology?
Fitness gaming (aka: active gaming, exer-gaming, exertainment) combines two very popular concepts: video games and fitness. Studies show that people play interactive games for a number of reasons: to have fun, dance, stay fit, meet other people, or simply to enjoy the challenge of the game itself. No matter what the reason, players reap a number of benefits that are intrinsic to each of these activities: the health benefits of exercise and the improved cognitive skills that develop as a positive side-effect of video gaming.
Research into the benefits that fitness games have on health is growing, studies have shown that fitness gaming elevates energy expenditure to moderate or vigorous activity, and can indeed offer the same health benefits as traditional exercise. There is a growing number of studies that support the positive effect fitness gaming has on health, fitness, coordination, anxiety and stress reduction, as well as social, cognitive and problem solving skills, among other things.
The single greatest advantage active gaming has over traditional forms of exercise is that it is not just a physical activity, but also a form of entertainment. iWALL and similar activity-based-video-games offer participants a much higher level of engagement than regular exercise, which significantly reduces the level of perceived exertion in players. As a result, the level of motivation to stick with the exercise program is also much higher than with traditional exercise.
As an additional plus, Axtion Technology provides a fitness solution designed for participants of all ages, which makes the 'stealth health' factor accessible to everyone, regardless of age and fitness level.
Because it is interactive in nature, fitness gaming inspires enthusiasm for exercise, and the combined benefits of iWALL and other fitness games make them an excellent gateway to more demanding forms of exercise, to sports and, by extension, to a healthier lifestyle.
What is Fitness Gaming For? The short term goal of fitness-gaming is to engage children and adults in physical activity as a substitute for sedentary activities. The medium term goal of fitness-gaming is to improve health and fitness of participants, increase self-esteem and physical ability towards the long term goal of increasing physical activity levels for long term healthy lifestyles - including VPA (voluntary physical activity) beyond fitness-gaming alone - and ultimately to realize health and wellness benefits by this.
These are some of the benefits that fitness gaming offers to players:
Health and weight management
Experts agree that an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise a day is essential for children's health. In spite of this, children and teenagers today are growing increasingly used to a sedentary lifestyle, which leads to a number of health issues, even at an early age. While fitness gaming may not be the cure for diseases that come with an inactive lifestyle, obesity being the most frequent one, the engaging nature of the game makes it an extremely fun activity not only for children, but for adults and seniors as well. This makes Fitness Games an excellent choice for anyone who has a hard time staying motivated to exercise. With other forms of exercise, people will usually be thinking about how exhausted they are; with fitness gaming, their mind is immersed in the game and they are just having fun.
When it comes to weight management, experts frequently recommend fitness gaming as a complement to other forms of exercise such as cycling, but for people whose fitness level is relatively low, dance games are an excellent place to start. They burn as many calories or more than a brisk walking pace and, needless to say, the energy expenditure is three times higher than that in sedentary activities.
Fitness gaming can be particularly beneficial to overweight children and those who do not usually participate in any kind of physical activity. For one thing, it provides them with a quality exercise tool and a healthy alternative to the regular kind of video games, which are often blamed for the part they play in childhood obesity. For another, the addictive nature of video games is precisely what makes fitness gaming intrinsically motivating. Another reason why fitness gaming is particularly well suited to overweight children is that they burn more calories during the exercise than normal weight children.
Fitness gaming can also have a beneficial effect on people suffering from type 2 diabetes who often lose interest in various forms of exercise even though treatment requires regular physical activity. While it is not as vigorous an activity as, for instance, running on a treadmill, iWALL is a lot more engaging and not as demanding on the body when played at lower levels, which encourages people to stick with it and yields better results in the long term.
iWALL delivers a level of activity similar to the cardiovascular exercise achieved by joggers and runners. Sometimes it even surpasses it, as players get more carried away by the exercise than they would while running.
The physical benefits of iWALL include improved speed, balance, agility, sense of rhythm, coordination, spatial awareness, endurance and reaction time. As an added benefit, all the skills acquired while playing can be transferred to real-world situations.
The interactive aspects of fitness gaming – competition, attention to details in the virtual environment, the need for participants to anticipate events and make decisions – all have a very positive effect on executive functioning as well as on attention, working memory, planning, multi-tasking and problem solving skills. This can be particularly beneficial to seniors, as it helps delay dementia and improve cognitive skills.
Because of their potential to improve children's academic performance and not just physical health, Fitness Games are becoming part of students' physical education classes. With machine dance in particular, researchers have found a positive correlation between the use of the iWALL system and performance in school. The cognitive benefits of iWALL range from better ordering and sequencing skills to pattern recognition and higher overall competence level.
Studies of sedentary video gaming have shown an improved processing and visual attention capacity, better visual-spatial skills, estimation, pattern recognition, judgment, hypothesis testing, the ability to switch between tasks, and other cognitive skills that improve academic performance. While there are no current studies on the correlation between attention and active video gaming, it is likely that fitness gaming has the same positive effect in this respect as traditional gaming.
Fitness gaming is a social experience. It provides an opportunity to interact with peers with similar interests, which can in turn foster friendships among players.
The multiplayer experience and ability to have people playing at different difficulty levels side by side has a positive effect on self-esteem, especially with children, while the immersive nature of the game gives them a sense of commonality and collaboration. At the same time, the level of any player is never compromised, which gives each player a sense of autonomy. Reduced body self-consciousness is another factor that can contribute to self-esteem, especially with children. The players' attention is always directed at a screen, not at themselves or at other players.
For all these and many other reasons, fitness gaming has become one of the fastest growing market segments in the health games arena in recent years. It is being implemented into physical education curriculums in schools, and widely accepted in health clubs, senior homes, hospitals, and other recreational and non-recreational settings, both for the health benefits it offers and for its appealing, engaging, fun nature.
Why Kids need Fitness Gaming Technology?
Fitness-gaming exploits the single, most fundamental cause cited for creating the obesity epidemic as the antidote: video games. Contrary to the stereotype, video games are now being used to get kids moving again. This evolutionary stage is called “Fitness-gaming” because it combines exercise with playing entertaining virtual reality games and simultaneous multi player gaming featuring the latest in video and computer technology.
Fitness-gaming’s solutions foster social interaction, and allow competition between individuals and groups located in diverse and remote locations leading to the creation of valuable social networks. Fitness-gaming products were created for, and intended to be, a catalyst in transforming today’s sedentary kids into healthy active kids. Fitness-gaming makes exercise fun and sustainable, and is a great tool to motivate all kids to get up and exercise.
Fitness-Gaming’s products are designed according to the needs and demands of today’s kids – colorful, interactive, social, robust, loud, challenging, entertaining, musical, educational, and on walls, floors and ceilings.
Blog: Interactive Fitness Technology – Buying Guide
Benefits for Children:
A series of studies conducted in recent years have shown that fitness gaming / active gaming is good for children in a number of ways, some of them more surprising than others. iWALL and similar games improve children’s agility and coordination, give them the daily dose of exercise they need and, like other types of fitness activities, active games have been known to improve children’s academic performance. However, unlike many other forms of exercise that are just as good for them, fitness gaming / active gaming is also an activity that children tend to enjoy. Because Fitness Games are designed to engage kids in a video game, one that requires them to perform physical tasks in order to score points and move from one level to the next, children tend to take to them pretty quickly.
Almost a half of preschool children do not get an hour of exercise a day, which is the level of physical activity recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The reasons why kids don’t exercise enough range from a lack of motivation and competence to insufficient support from parents and friends. Yet the main reason why children do not get as much exercise as they should is the same as the reason why they do exercise when they do: because it’s fun. Some children find different forms of physical activity fun, while others find video games and TV programs more entertaining. For this reason, a growing number of schools – and families – have recognized the benefits and appeal of active video games and begun introducing them to their children.
Fitness Games are increasingly becoming part of the curriculum at schools not only to make exercise more fun for children, who are already used to spending a lot of time playing sedentary video games, but also to motivate kids to exercise more. iWALL, like other fun active games, does not only eliminate the usual barriers to physical activity, mainly the lack of interest, but also inspires enthusiasm for exercise, which is essential to long term success in making a fitness workout part of their daily routine.
What makes iWALL and similar games particularly appealing to children is that they can play with their friends and family. The camaraderie and support in a group exercise motivate kids to stick with the workout routine. The video game aspect, being intrinsically motivating, leaves children more energized and can inspire them to engage in sports and other vigorous activities that involve group play.
Here are some of the factors that children who play active video games benefit from:
Improved fitness level and physical skills
The amount of energy expended in fitness gaming / active gaming is equal to that in moderate or vigorous exercise, depending on the players’ level. Like any other form of exercise, iWALL and other active games have a beneficial effect on health and can significantly improve children’s agility, motor skills and cardiovascular endurance, as well as their sensory motor learning. Active games that encourage players to jump and maintain balance are known to improve balance by up to 30% in the long term!
The physical skills acquired through fitness gaming / active gaming include balance, improved reaction time, endurance, coordination and speed. As an additional benefit, these skills are transferable to other activities and have the potential to boost physical activity in children and motivate them to engage in traditional forms of exercise and sports. This in turn benefits their physical, cognitive and social development even more down the line.
Fitness gaming / active gaming is known to improve levels of activity in students. Schools that have introduced fitness gaming / active gaming to their curriculum have recorded a 33% increase in activity, as active video gaming is an activity children genuinely enjoy.
Childhood obesity and lack of physical activity among children have grown to epidemic proportions in western countries in recent decades. Other than increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, obesity has a number of other negative effects on children, with their self-esteem and motivation being the first in the line of fire. Video games, computers, television and other screen activities are often blamed for the decrease in physical activity in children and teenagers.
Fitness gaming / active gaming and machine dance can assist in weight loss. While the energy expenditure depends on the level of the game, research has shown that active video gaming has a small but definite effect on the body mass index in obese and overweight children, and that time spent playing active games tends to increase. Studies of individual Fitness Games over a longer period of time have yet to be conducted, but the existing ones show that the moderate exercise required to complete tasks and the reduction of sedentary activity and everything that usually comes with it (snacks, for one thing) can indeed help children lose weight and improve their body composition. Among different types of Fitness Games studied so far, dance games are the ones with the highest energy expenditure level. While playing, children burn three times as many calories than at rest.
Both children who engage in sports and those who play passive video games benefit from their hobbies, as each activity has a positive effect on their cognitive skills by itself. Research has shown that video games improve a number of factors that are vital to children’s academic performance, including their attention capacity, problem solving skills, pattern recognition, task switching ability, hypothesis testing, and estimation among other things. Physical activity, on the other hand, is known to improve cognitive skills in children and adolescents, including their perceptual and verbal skills, developmental level, and even their intelligence quotient. This is why exercise is vital for children and adolescents, as it affects how their brain develops and has a longer lasting effect compared to the one fitness activities have on adults and seniors.
Like other vigorous physical activities, fitness gaming / active gaming is known to improve academic performance among students by building new neurological connections that enhance memory, learning and critical thinking. Schools that have introduced fitness gaming / active gaming to their activities have recorded a grade average increase by 1.5 grades, reading scores 17% higher than the state average, and math scores 18% better than the state average. As an aside, schools that use Fitness Games to boost their students’ activity level in the morning are seeing a significant decrease in tardiness.
The level of fitness that results from fitness gaming / active gaming and other forms of aerobic exercise enhances neurological and physiological mechanisms, increases neurotransmitter availability and cerebral circulation, and these processes lead to an improved cognitive performance. With iWALL and other games similar in nature, children also benefit from an improved attention capacity, better processing skills and task-switching ability. All these factors can and often do result in a better performance at school.
Active gaming can be particularly appealing to shy, withdrawn children, who do not usually engage in group activities easily and who sometimes do not get enough exercise to stay healthy for this very reason. Fitness gaming / active gaming allows them to both play games and get some exercise without leaving the house. In a group exercise, it helps that the players are focused on the arrows on the screen and their attention does not drift from completing the task to their body or performance compared to others. This can be liberating for children who are too self-aware or not very talented at sports. Without the competitiveness and pressure to perform on a team that comes with other group activities, children’s progress and competence level can also have a positive effect on their self-esteem. Beyond that, like any other kind of exercise, active games help decrease stress levels and improve mood.
Even though kids should get at least some of their exercise outside, fitness gaming / active gaming is an excellent supplement to their other activities and, needless to say, an excellent alternative to sedentary video gaming, surfing the internet, watching television, and other activities kids usually engage in at home. In addition to that, games like iWALL, which have grown into a global phenomenon, have also built a global social network of players. This allows children and adolescents to share experiences, socialize online, and find new friends who share similar interests.
Blog: Interactive Fitness Technology – Buying Guide
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- Edwin Kasanders