It is common knowledge that video games have caught the imagination of millions of people and today most children opt to play video games indoors rather than engage in outdoor games. Many physical education professionals have condemned this trend as unhealthy.
For any child, physical activity and outdoor games are essential in the growing up years. To remain physical healthy, children must be encouraged to engage in games like football, basketball, soccer, and tennis for muscle building as well as bone strengthening. Regular physical activity as a child will have a lasting health benefit for a person as he/she gets older.
Lack of physical exercises and remaining indoors glued to video games can lead to physical ailments such as joint aches and pains, poor digestion, weak bones and even cardiac problems. Physical inactivity is the chief reason for the obesity syndrome spreading across all countries of the world.
Before the emergence of home computers and video games, children spent more time outside engaging in their favorite outdoor games and this healthy trend routine has now been eroded. With loads of exciting computer games and tempting simulations to indulge in, children have become addicts to video games and refuse to play outdoors. The larger question is what can be done to reverse this dangerous trend and stem the rot before it is too late.
If teachers and parents believe that the children can be counseled to opt for outdoor games, then it is unlikely to yield the desired results as the addiction to video games has become so overpowering. Employing coercive tactics may not also lead to any positive results.
Having recognized the magnitude of the problem, researchers have come up with some innovative machines called ‘exergames’ or ‘exertainment’. The use of these machines will help children achieve all of the positive results of physical exercise, without abandoning the excitement that video games provide. In pursuance of this goal, video games that incorporate various physical workouts in a compelling and yet interesting manner – have been invented.
For instance, mountaineering bikes accompanied by ride simulation video screens create a game environment with virtual competitors and monitoring mechanisms. There are visuals to track vertical jumps, rock climbing set up with video simulations where climbers evade obstacles or hop over hurdles.
In fact some health clubs have already introduced exertainment machines into their gyms and it is heartening to note that their membership strength is steadily growing. Besides, many of these gyms are providing video game consoles that require players to stand up and move their hands and legs and engage the torso muscles and physically exert themselves to move the controls.
Recent surveys have concluded that children playing video games that require physical activity demand twice the amount of energy as compared to playing a game on the TV in a continued sitting position. Thus the new types of exergames are good substitute for children who have developed a natural aversion for outdoor sport activities.
Going one step further, survey reports suggest that exergames are hugely beneficial for all classes of people regardless of age and not only children. Certain gym chains have already started roping in adults through mass marketing initiatives such as advertising and lectures. It is expected that adults will slowly overcome their inhibitions and take to exergames in large numbers.