Plugged In

Exergaming comes to the iPad

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Fit Freeway (BitGym)

The iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch might have some great gaming experiences, but they're all fairly sedentary, unless you consider pulling the Angry Bird slingshot a cardio workout (in which case, we salute your level of sluggishness).

A new developer, though, is looking to change those perceptions.

BitGym has launched Fit Freeway, the first title in what it says will be a portfolio of apps that blend fun and fitness. The game is meant to make a real cardio workout (technically, one that takes place on a treadmill or the like) more fun by adding gaming elements to engage people and help them stick by their now-faltering New Year Resolutions.

The idea's pretty simple: Put your iDevice on the treadmill, elliptical trainer or exercise bike and start your workout. Using the onboard accelerometer and BitGym's technology, the game translates your workout into an onscreen driving game. The faster you go, the faster the car drives. You control steering by tilting your head right or left. The goal is to complete each of eight stages before time runs out.

The game costs $4.99 in the app store and has several difficulty levels and play modes.

"We think that Fit Freeway is just the start for BitGym," says CEO Alex Gourley. "For too long people have been told to worry about minutes, miles or calories -- but really what is important is that people are engaged, have tangible goals, and keep coming back. Cardio machines are awful at all these things, but with videogames we can change that."

The company notes that University of Virginia researchers in the school's Behavioral Medicine Laboratory found that cardio machine exergames increased workout adherence by 83 percent.

While exergaming on Apple's iDevices is new, there's certainly notable interest among people when it comes to using games to make exercise more fun. Wii Fit has sold more than 23 million copies life to date -- and EA Sports Active was that publisher's best selling title for the Wii.

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