Video Games That Help You Lose Weight
Too busy with that game of Madden to hit the gym? Don't want to miss the Flavor of Love II reunion? Don't worry because modern technology has you covered.
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With childhood obesity setting new records every year, this was inevitable: video game workouts. Has it come to this? Is this the only way to convince us to drag ourselves off the couch and get a bit of exercise? I'm afraid so. With parents worried about the ever-changing girth of their children and video game companies worried that their consumers --no pun intended-- might actually go outside into the sunlight, we have been blessed with video game and television workouts. No, these aren't the Jane Fonda workouts that your grandmother used to watch. These are high-tech, state-of-the-art products designed to get kids and adults alike to workout without leaving their high definition televisions. Here are some of the products:
The GameRunner is a treadmill that is hooked up to a screen to play shooting video games. The handlebars in front steer your character and aim their shooting devices. Walking on the treadmill controls the speed of which the characters in the game move. The GameRunner was designed for walking because most users would tire quickly and not get the full experience if this machine were made for running. The GameRunner also includes a reverse button for the character, so the actual movement of the treadmill is forward, to prevent any injuries, while the character moves backwards. The triggers and buttons can also be adjusted to the pace you wish to workout at. It works for just about any shooting game supported by a First Person Shooter (See definition of FPS in Basic Video Game Terminology: What You Need to Know ). The GameRunner became available for pre-order starting Oct. 28 and costs $495. (GameRunner)
The Verdict: This should be a smash hit. Walking on a treadmill while playing a video game is something that many people do anyway. The combination of the two for an affordable price is genius. (Update: This is no longer available. Try the Web Browser Treadmill instead.)
This is basically a big joystick. The idea is to use the core muscles to stabilize and move the joystick to give the user a total body workout. Like the GameRunner, the Exer-station is set up in front of a television and moves to the beat of any game associated with PlayStation, Xbox, and GameCube. The joystick is made of a blend of polycarbonate and steel and the force of resistance can reach up to 200 pounds. The Exer-station uses four semiconductor gauges to measure the force and strain being exerted. A few years ago, Exer-station came out with a similar product that cost $800 and was as tall as the user. This product --which is just 24 inches tall-- will only run you $199 and is available now. The PowerSquad, a device similar to the life-size Exer-station with better range of motion released by the same company, cut a deal with the U.S. military in July for the troops to use their product to simulate combat. (Exer-station)
The Verdict: I doubt anybody besides the inventor's mother will be duped into buying this. Why wrestle with a big joystick when you can walk on a treadmill?
To use the Entertrainer, just punch in the vitals (like age, gender and weight), hook it up to the T.V. or radio, strap on the included heart monitor, and you're ready to go. The Entertrainer works by measuring your heart rate and using inventive ways to motivate. The moment the user slows down, the volume of the T.V. lowers and lowers until it turns off. It works with any basic aerobic machine. It's sort of like a giant, motivational iPod. (Entertrainer)
Reader's Digest named it one of the best new products of 2006. The Entertrainer costs $139.99 and comes with a two-year warranty.
The Verdict: I'm torn on this one. It is a unique invention, but it needs one small twist. Instead of having your music or T.V. turn off when you slow down, it should get louder. It's subliminally telling you to quit. When I work out, I turn the music up when I get tired. Other than that, this is a pretty strong invention that anybody can use.
Dance Dance Revolution
This is the game that started the video game workout trend. A typical workout is the length of three songs or about 15 minutes. The game comes with a pad with different colored arrows to step to the rhythm of the game. On the screen is a character that leads the way for you. It's pretty much a high-tech game of Simon Says. DDR comes in an arcade version where you can actually dance against another player. If you don't feel like leaving the house, it's got you covered there too. A basic DDR system can be purchased for just 65 bucks. The West Virginia school system -who says their behind the times?-- has added Dance Dance Revolution to its school curriculum. Pump It Up, an eerily similar game, is also gaining popularity. (Dance Dance Revolution here)
The Verdict: Dance Dance Revolution is already a hit, but will it be able to sustain with new products flooding the market?
Have you ever wanted to be the main character in a video game? The EyeToy Kinetic can help you out. The EyeToy Kinetic comes with a small video camera to place on top of the T.V. You appear exactly as you do in real life - which may or may not be a complete bummer - on the screen. The camera plugs into your PS2 and translates your movements onto the screen. The games are simple. For example, floating objects cruise around the screen and you have to punch or kick them. It can even be used as a warm-up. Ranges of motion are shown on the screen and you try to match them to get a good stretch. It's made by PlayStation 2, with Nike's help in product development. (EyeToy Kinetic )
The Verdict: A big hit among the narcissist crowd. But most people will take note that it's just a fancy mirror.
Break out the leg warmers and big hair, we're going back to the eighties for this one. Not since the graphing calculator has there been a better use of this wonderful game. The Tetris weightlifting system consists of two handles hanging from a steel frame. The handles have buttons on them that rotate the pieces to the desired position. To move the pieces left, pull down on the left handle. To move it right, pull down the right handle. And to move the piece down, pull both handles. The weights are held in buckets at the other end of the handles, so controlling the amount of weight you want is not a problem. This product is still in the prototype phase. (Tetris Weightlifting )
The Verdict: How can you not love anything that has to do with Tetris? Just take it easy. With the upper body workout that you get, you might end up looking like Popeye.
We've come a long way from Super Mario Brothers. The latest installment from Nintendo, the Nintendo Wii, will have many options for fitness. The Wii comes with a wireless, position sensing controller that allows the gamer free range and a variety of games. The Wii will also offer a package called Wii Sports that serves up different activities, all of which can be used with the same controller. Games include, bowling, boxing, and tennis, among others. So far, the folks at Nintendo have been showing off the tennis game. The controller is small and sleek, like a tube of toothpaste. You just hold the controller in your hand and play tennis. You can also make adjustments for a lob shot, or to put a spin on the ball by pressing the buttons on the controller. The Nintendo Wii is expected to ship out Nov. 19 and cost $250, which is a good price for a new game console. (Nintendo Wii) (Update: Nintendo Wii is now available here.)
The Verdict: Get one early or else pay twice the price on ebay.
So there you have it, seven unique ways to get in a workout without leaving the house. Technology has made other aspects of life easier, so it's about time we upgraded our workout regimens. We used to have to leave home for a gym, which consisted of the same, tired equipment we've been using forever. Not anymore. Implementing a fresh workout into your life can have many benefits. Plus the selection of products mentioned can be used by anyone. But which product is the best? Disagree with any of The Verdict's? Has anyone given any of these goods a spin? Drop us a line and let us know what you think.