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article imageVirtual Games No Replacement for Real Exercise

By Tea Lulic     Apr 1, 2008 in Health
Recently, Wii Sports and Dance Dance Revolution have become one of the most popular ways to get active. They get your children off the couch and involve them in some sort of physical activity, but is it enough?
According to Colleen Greene, M.A., wellness coordinator MFit, the health promotion division of the University of Michigan Health System, definitively not. While these games might not be enough for daily exercise, they are a place to start. They prompt children to find different sports or activities that will interest them.
The games are interactive and can require as little activity as a swing of the wrist to play golf or tennis, or as much effort as a normal dance routine or full punches in virtual boxing game. However, most of these games do not qualify as an aerobic exercise. In fact, they do not come even close to it.
“Real calories can be burned during virtual gaming, although some studies have recently shown that it may be 60 to 70 calories an hour,” Greene notes. “This is nowhere near what an actual game or sport should be, which is three to four times that amount.”
While they are not enough to replace the real exercise regime, it is important to note that these games are indeed important for development of hand-eye coordination in children as well as their confidence.
However, these games are only the place to start. Encourage your children, once they have tried an activity or sport that they like on Wii, to go outdoors and try it out in the backyard (of course with you). In that way, you are keeping them fully active and helping them see the benefits of exercising or playing sports in the "real" world. Instead of leaving them whole summer to play video games, sign them up for a sports summer camp where they will in addition to exercise, gain new friendships and stay healthy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that kids perform at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most days (preferably daily). Since 1980, the percentage of children who are obese has tripled.
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