Some people have all kinds of qualms when it comes to the gaming experience. Perhaps they think that modern video games are too violent (or that they encourage violence). A common complaint is that they turn your mind to mush (when in fact, studies have shown that some games enhance motor skills, strategic planning, and spatial awareness). But the main detractor for many seems to be the fact that video games tend to be a rather inactive activity. For kids and adults that have only so much leisure time, spending it in pursuit of the latest Xbox achievement or trying to level up a character in Borderlands may be fun and entertaining for the brain, but in the meantime the body is beginning to atrophy. Luckily, there is a solution for the gamers that would like top out the leaderboards and enjoy washboard abs. Here are a few active video games that will help you stimulate your mind and your muscles simultaneously.
- DDR. Dance Dance Revolution may be kind of old-school at this point (especially with Dance Central for the Xbox 360 as a more modern alternative), but plenty of people still seem to have a great time whipping out the dance pad and getting down to some groovy beats. And the PS3 version prompts users to move both their hands and their feet for points thanks to compatibility with the PlayStation Eye and the PlayStation Move. And for individuals that are concerned about their ability to connect with friends and other players online, the latest version of DDR allows for social interaction by allowing you to upload videos of yourself dancing to YouTube and Facebook (via the Video Uploader), much to the amusement and delight of your followers, no doubt.
- Sports Boxing. A report conducted by the University of Chester and published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine in September showed that study participants (age 11-15) increased their calorie-burning potential by more than 250% when playing this game via the Xbox Kinect (as opposed to non-active video games), with the potential to burn almost 200 calories per hour. Also included in the study was Dance Central, which increased calories burned by 150%. So if you didn’t think that exer-gaming could help you shed those unwanted pounds, it appears that the proof is in the pudding. Of course, staying away from the pudding also helps.
- Active Life Outdoor Challenge. This one for the Wii will require you to purchase the Active Life mat, but game maker Namco has other games in the Active Life series (Explorer, Extreme Challenge, and Magical Carnival) so you’re sure to get your money’s worth out of it. The Outdoor Challenge provides players with several types of outdoor games to choose from (such as river rafting, log jumping, see-saw, and more), plus varying levels of difficulty for each one. But what makes it really fun is that the game offers both competitive and cooperative play, so you can work with a friend or against one!
- Zumba Fitness. Skip the crowded classes at the gym and get your Latin groove on with this dance party for the Xbox Kinect, PlayStation Move, or Wii. The combination of salsa, flamenco, and hip-hop rhythms will have you sweating in no time.
- EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp. It’s no surprise that the company that brings you Madden each year would come out with an active game that will help gridiron fans get into the same shape as the players they watch on Sunday (and run through the paces via Madden in the meantime). You can get started with 70 different drills that work on strength, stamina, and agility with nothing more than the Wii console. But if you happen to have a balance board as well you’ll get a lot more out of this fitness game. It might not measure up to personal training courses but it’s bound to be less expensive and a lot more fun.