Virtually fit

By: Ryan Loyd Email
By: Ryan Loyd Email

SHERMAN, Tex. -- With obesity rates on the rise in American adults, doctors are questioning how to get kids motivated to work out. The conclusion is that habits form in children, but the couch potato syndrome has kept them indoors and inactive for far too long. Now a new wave is on the horizon to get children active, with the help of action-oriented games.

Gaming systems like Nintendo are the old and familiar forms of childhood entertainment, but fast-forward to this generation, and games like Dance Dance Revolution are becoming the new, active form of entertainment.

"It’s good exercise, it's fun, it's just something to do on free time," Gross says.

Sixteen-year-old David Gross has been jumping and jiving to Dance Dance Revolution at Sherman’s Midway Mall for about seven months now. He says it's great that having fun this way includes hanging out with his friends and staying in shape.

"I lost 10 pounds, and I’ve maintained weight."

This is how younger kids are getting the exercise they need- mandatory physical education requirements from the state. In fact, this program is brand new and focuses on the children's whole body, but out of school on their own time, parents and doctors are wondering what would motivate kids beyond a mandatory PE class. Certainly, Nintendo and all the old video games do nothing to get them off the couch. But technology is changing that.

"It’s new, it's exciting."

Flashy graphics, catchy tunes and the new wave of action gaming is turning the tide of the industry.

"They’re trying to encompass as much as they can as a live, movement-oriented action versus sitting around playing on a controller."

Seventeen-year-old Alex Cobb believes the gaming industry is only following what kids and teens have been craving.

"It's great, really great. Games are finally catching up getting kids active instead of making them sit on the couch."

Beren Bragg's girlfriend, Alyssa Wheeler, caught on to the craze, too. Even though she's one of only a few girls playing this mostly guy game.

"I’ve been playing... Not that long, but long enough to be pretty good!"

Wheeler believes games like this can be a powerful motivator to help kids adapt healthy habits in life, and it's all because the games are just plain fun.

"I would have no problem if they replaced running in school with ‘DDR’."

Maybe nothing will replace the good old fashion exercise like programs your kids are doing already, but it could make a nice addition. Some schools have even brought in games like Dance Dance Revolution to give children an incentive to continue working out long after class is over, but it is expensive.

High-schoolers wouldn't even mind either, but for now, they'll have to settle for dance dance revolution at the mall.

So far that's what been keeping David, Alex and Alyssa moving to the music.

"There’s variations, Rock Band, Guitar Hero, there's a bunch of technology like this but for getting active this is definitely one of the bigger choices."

They know this healthier choice will last longer than that old familiar game of the past when 'Game Over' meant the end-- instead of a new beginning that includes thinner waistlines.

There's also a version of Dance Dance Revolution for home use. It is portable so you can pick it up and take it anywhere, and you don't even need a game console to do it.

Games are also helping on the front of patient rehabilitation. The new Nintendo Wii's are being used for something called "Wii-hab" to incorporate movement for redeveloping coordination skills.

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