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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Is Fitness Becoming Just a Game?

Published March 23, 2009 11:15 AM by Lauren Fritsky

In recent years, video game systems have been embraced as a complement to fitness regimens and physical therapy programs for various conditions and injuries. Most notably, the Wii and Wii Fit are being used by young and old alike.

Now, researchers in the physical therapy department at the University of Indianapolis say another game, Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), can also be used as a fitness tool.

Assistant professors Anne Mejia Downs and Stacie Fruth tested adults to see if the game, which involves using a platform to step in time to music and visual prompts, could improve their fitness levels, which has not been done before (researchers have studied the game's effect on children).

The professors tracked 27 males and females of varying fitness levels ages 30 to 55. They found the participants' resting heart rate decreased to four to five beats per minute and that oxygen uptake increased. The most significant finding was that the average body mass index (BMI) dropped to 25.5. The majority of participants said they enjoyed the sessions and felt they were good workouts.

It's quite possible that the less fit participants will continue playing DDR to stay in shape. But in an age where it's harder to get adults to take fitness seriously, is making exercise all fun and games smart?

Doctors and those in the fitness industry have said games like Wii Fit are good starting points for people who are new to fitness, but that they can't replace the gym or the jogging path. They hope the game systems will eventually encourage users to take physical activity to a new level.

Do you think these video games are an adequate way to engage individuals in fitness? Or do you think some people are relying too heavily on them to get in shape?

posted by Lauren Fritsky

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