The Exergame Network (TEN) has found that objectives set for Americas health, weight management and fitness are being missed and cannot be met by traditional health interventions alone. TEN says that technology needs to be embraced as a friend, not a foe for today’s healthy lifestyles.
TEN Supports the methodology of Exergaming; the combination of exercise and multimedia technologies, for a role in reaching the Health People 2020 objectives. Exergaming seeks to change sedentary screen time to active screen time, thereby bringing activity levels within the recommended guidelines for moderate to vigorous physical activity levels (MVPA). National studies have shown 97% of children play video games daily and the average age of gamers is 34 years old. Video game technology that underpins Exergaming is proven to be engaging and sustainable for everyone.
“Exergaming is an exciting genre in the video game space,” said Jennifer Mercurio, Vice President & General Counsel of the Entertainment Consumers Association. “It can be used for physical therapy and team building, as well as fitness. Healthy People 2020 should embrace Exergaming as an important component in getting Americans more healthy.”
TEN Recognises that not every exergame is suitable for improving health, a headline study into Wii Sports by Liverpool John Moores University suggest that Wii Sports, while fun, cannot be recommended due to the low level of energy expenditure. However, the results of a 2008 study into Dance Dance Revolution and Eyetoy Kinetic exergames by SUNY Cortland University showed that some exergames can contribute to the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity. To help guide the public, TEN evaluates exergames using its Rating System, at http://exergamenetwork.blogspot.com/p/exergame-experience-rating-system.html, to support those exergames that have genuine exercise components.
Teachers play a large part in our children’s physical activity - 65% of school children’s activity is solely derived at school. The educators role is to raise children’s awareness of healthy practises and to demonstrate how exercise can be fun, engaging and become an everyday part of their lives. Exergaming is one route to achieve these goals.
George Velarde is a PE educator with a vision to move PE from traditional practises to the “New PE” which integrates technology. His experiences are a testament to the power of Exergaming, and his results for Sierra Vista Jr. High are a testament to the effectiveness of appropriately applied health and fitness technologies.
The Sierra Vista PE Department’s efforts in “New PE”, that includes over 50 Exergaming stations, started in 2003 and has subsequently improved the schools fitness scores. In 2003 the school scored 33.4% for the 6 fitness standards. After six years the school scored 55.4% in the number of fitness standards achieved. With George’s enthusiasm, Sierra Vista is a school that embraces Exergaming and bucks the national trend by moving in the right direction for health and fitness.
The evidence from Sierra Vista is not an isolated experience, schools and universities are finding their own path towards healthy lifestyles through practical trials and research with exergaming. Last month the executive directors of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, Melissa Johnson and Shellie Y. Pfohl, had first hand experience of Exergaming at the University of South Florida’s Active Gaming laboratory in Tampa.
The goal of Exergaming is not to replace traditional exercise, but to replace sedentary behaviour, and as an effective method to increase participation in traditional exercise - The ‘Gateway’ Effect. The public opinion of the best gateway exergame, and other worthy categories of exergaming, are the subject of The Exergame Network Awards, which is currently open to public vote at http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/421003/active-gaming-awards.
The objectives for Healthy People 2020 are due to be released to the public this month, and while technology, principally increased screen time, is having a negative effect on our health, the evidence points to a need for guidelines supporting the positive benefits of exergaming.
TEN promotes the advantages of healthy video games, through it’s collaboration with health professionals, academics, leading manufacturers, distributors, students and advocates. TEN’s resources include a wiki site (http://exergaming.pbwiki.com) and a blog site (http://exergamenetwork.blogspot.com). TEN is also established on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn with queries directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org