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Plugged In

Gaming as Exercise: Video Games Which Get You Up and Moving

Plugged In

The combination of gaming and exercise is a great temptation to many people, especially those who may not have considered playing video games without the bonus of a cardio workout. Fortunately, many games—including some that might surprise you—incorporate movement and physical activity. Some carry the added bonus of providing storylines in addition to exercise to gamers who might otherwise be inclined to sit idle for most of an afternoon.

Motion sensor technology in combination with gaming has become a hot topic over the last few years, especially with the announcement that both Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 would be joining the Nintendo Wii in offering "motion" gaming. The implementation of these features will enable both of the popular platforms to offer options in the "gaming as exercise" trend.

Gaming As Exercise Option: Wii Fit

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Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

This obvious choice from the Wii system helped to pioneer the gaming-as-exercise trend. The latest update—the Wii Fit Plus—further enhances the system, providing even more customization and flexibility. With a fitness calculator, body mass indicator and workout routines, Wii Fit is an excellent starting choice for anyone seeking to combine gaming time and exercise.

"My favorite is the free run - being able to jog in my living room and not need a babysitter," explained Amber Broadway, who has owned her Wii Fit Plus for two years. "I also love the Wii Fit Plus' feature that allows you to move seamlessly between cardio, resistance, and yoga activities." As an added bonus, Amber enjoys gaming as exercise using Wii Fit with her entire family: "Our kids love cheering us on and seeing us beat our previous times [or] accomplishments."

Gaming As Exercise Option: Guitar Hero

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Wii Fit

The Guitar Hero franchise has seen tremendous success, and few top 10 gaming articles—especially those featuring cooperative multiplayer options—omit these addictive hits. But what may be surprising about the Guitar Hero series is how much physical activity is required to play, especially if you happen to be playing the drums. With nearly a dozen titles on multiple consoles, Guitar Hero is likely to be one of the first franchises to employ the new motion sensor technology available to the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 systems.

Gaming As Exercise Option: Just Dance

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Guitar Hero

A wide variety of dance-oriented games have been released on the Wii that use motion sensor technology to both thwart—and teach—users as they attempt complicated dance moves. Just Dance combines popular songs and specific dance moves to get players up off the couch and dancing to familiar tunes, such as "Girls Just Want To Have Fun," and "Pump Up The Jam."

Shalamar Gallegos, who purchased her copy of Just Dance in early 2010, shared her favorite feature of this title: "The fact that it is a four player, unlike some of the other dance games that are only two. Getting a bunch of people doing the same silly dance makes it a lot of fun." She indicated that the potential for gaming as exercise was the first thing which attracted her to Just Dance. "I saw it and looked like it would be something to do and help me to get moving a little more."

Gaming As Exercise Option: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

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Just Dance

Many Wii games feature some sort of motion sensor controls. Whether the title is a horror game, an action-adventure or even a RPG, chances are you can expect some degree of physical motion required to play the video game beyond just your thumbs and fingers. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is one example of a surprisingly good title for gaming as exercise. The controls require players to swim, fend off attackers and move objects, and many users are surprised by just how much movement is required to keep the main character alive.

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