The Fitness Trainer

April 11th, 2010 in .Blogs .News & Events
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While I was doing research for one of my earlier posts – the one on how technology can improve mental fitness, among other things – I discovered a debate on the benefits of exercise gaming.

The delightful (or not, depending on your level of cynicism) portmanteau of exergaming describes a wide range of activities and products that have been designed to make you fit. The thing is, the jury really is out as to whether or not these products make any difference at all.

I’ve chatted to several personal trainers and they’ve all pretty much said the same thing – you need to do a lot of exercise in order to lose weight. And when they say a lot, they mean that you need to burn around 2000 calories a day to lose four pounds a week.  So expect to cycle for about two hours a day to lose two pounds a week. Not namby pamby cycling, mind, actual hardcore killer cycling that makes sweat drip into your eyes.

When you look at those figures it’s not hard to see why the fitness gurus sneer a little at the wafty arm waving and stepping that accompanies most of the modern exergaming titles.

However, there is a flip side. While some of these games may not be as demanding as, shall we say, regular exercise, they are better than no exercise at all. They will improve the overall health and fitness of a sedentary person by introducing a regular routine and getting them to work up a bit of a sweat.

No, they won’t be pounding the track for ten miles each day, but they will be puffing their way around the living room and getting those muscles moving. These benefits cannot be ignored in a world where people are becoming dangerously inactive and unfit.

One man dedicated seven weeks of his life to following the program on Wii Fit and documented the changes to his physique and health. It’s a fascinating read and the results really do speak for themselves. He lost ten pounds and improved his muscle tone. Read all about it here:

Obviously you can’t talk about getting fit without mentioning diet. If you ram 1000 creme eggs down your throat every day exercise may help you to burn a bit of that but it won’t help you lose any weight. Matching a good diet with any kind of exercise routine is going to start showing some results.

There are other options too, though. You don’t necessarily need a lush TV and a Wii to get fit. You can also use your existing gaming rig or netbook to burn off the poundage while you work. Seriously. I uncovered a raft of products that will actually show results similar to a “real” exercise routine that you can use while gaming.

My personal favourite is the PC-Sport from Gamercize. This slips beneath your desk, you plug your mouse and keyboard into it and start stepping. The moment you stop your footy activity, your mouse and keyboard will stop working. Combine this with the “distraction” abilities of gaming and you may find yourself burning the fat while killing the zombies in L4D2.

Other options include things like the PCGamerbike from 3D Innovations, Dance Dance Revolution (you can get this for the Wii, most consoles and there’s an ace version for the PC at StepMania) and the Cybex Trazer.

So the jury remains hung. Some experts say it’s a load of rubbish and just an attempt to cash in on a craze while relieving you of the weight in your wallet. Others think it can form part of a valid exercise routine. I think that any exercise can work if you do it properly, dedicate enough hours to it and eat well.

What do you think? Fabulous or Fraud…

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