Dance Dance Revolution Your Way to Fitness--For Real!

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I am sure many of you have been initiated into the Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) or Nintendo Wii Fit craze that has swept through the country over the past several years. If you haven’t been exposed to these games then just ask your kids or grandkids. More than likely they have had some contact with these games at a friend’s house or maybe even at their school. In fact this past year the West Virginia school system has integrated DDR into their physical education curriculum to help kids get fit.

While my household may be one of the few in the world that does not own a PS2, PS3, X-Box or any other home video game system as part of their electronic cache, that does not mean I am unfamiliar with all the hype that surrounds these units.

For those unfamiliar with the DDR, you basically stand on a mat while moving or dancing in the rhythm and direction of the arrows or instructions that appear on the TV screen. If you are rhythmically challenged like me, this can become quite an endeavor. It definitely looks much easier to do than it is, but it is a lot of fun.

With the popularity of these games (just ask anyone in search of the Nintendo Wii only a few short months ago) researchers are beginning to study the effects these video games have on people’s fitness and if the benefits help offset the current rate of obesity.

Research is confirming that video games, such as DDR and Wii Fit, can revolutionize our fitness by getting us off the couch and moving. Many fitness experts believe this new approach to making exercise fun is one way to work in activity. After all something is better than nothing. According to a study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse Health and Exercise Program, the results concluded that “caloric expenditure data of 24 volunteers, researchers determined that it is comparable to many other aerobic activities and could result in significant weight loss if used regularly.”

These same researchers conducted a second study on the benefits of the Wii Fit Sports series, including baseball, bowling, boxing, golf, and tennis. The data supports that these games do show caloric expenditure, but by no means should they take the place of the actual participation in these sports.

If you are curious as to which Wii Fit Sports game garnered the highest caloric expenditure for the study participants--that would be boxing. And compared to all the other sports, boxing was the only activity tested which the researchers “considered intense enough to maintain or improve cardio-respiratory endurance as defined by accepted industry standards.”

And if you think you have heard it all, Norway has declared DDR an official sport! So now there is no excuse to keep your kids from dancing to their favorite tunes while having fun with friends and family.

Do you own either of these video games? Do you feel you get a good workout? What is your favorite game?