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Video games can lead to a healthier lifestyle

The Wii gaming console has inspired dozens of “active-play” video games, where players are asked to get up off the couch and engage in some form of physical activity. This has led many people to suggest that video gaming could actually lead to a healthier lifestyle.

But can videos games really make that much of a difference? Yes, says no less an authority than the American Heart Association (AHA). In the results of a new survey released last week, the AHA found that 58 percent of people who engage in active-play video gaming have begun a new real-life fitness activity like walking, tennis, or jogging since they started playing. In addition, 68 percent of people who play these games say they are more physically active since they got involved with video gaming.

In response to these results, Nintendo and the AHA have come up with a series of holiday fitness tips, which they are calling 12 Days of Getting Active. They will focus on how active-play video games “can get everyone in the family engaged in fun, physically active behavior leading into and through the New Year.”

"We are looking at active-play video games as part of a realistic approach to fitness," said Barry A. Franklin, Ph.D., Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Exercise Laboratories at William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan and an American Heart Association volunteer. “We are finding that they often act as a gateway to other forms of physical activity.”

The survey also showed that 82 percent of those who engage in active-play video gaming now play more with family and friends, suggesting that these types of video games can inspire more social behavior. It also found that women are more likely than men to take to active-play video games, because they “can stay active at home (61 percent), can play day or night (49 percent), can try things they wouldn’t normally do, like skiing (47 percent), and can push their physical limits (24 percent).”

You can find the 12 Days of Getting Active tips on the Active Play Now web site that Nintendo has created with the AHA. As Tim Church, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the AHA’s Physical Activity Committee says, “The best physical activity for you is the one you will do. Finding something you enjoy is absolutely critical.”

If you have been struggling to stay in shape or find an activity you like, then maybe it’s time to give video games a try!

Have you been playing active-play video games to stay in shape? Has it made a difference? Share your thoughts with The Online Mom!

Comment by Jennifer Wagner/Connect with your Teens, posted 12/13/2010, 12:04 AM:

Even before the physical benefits began with Nintendo Wii, video games had many other positive benefits such as decision making, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and problem solving to name just a few. Now that physical exercise is possible, maybe parents will begin to see that video games can be a good thing for their kids, if like anything else, they are used in moderation.
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