What is Interactive Fitness?

Synthia L. Rose

Interactive fitness is the use of technology for cardiovascular activities. Video games and computers outfitted with handheld devices allow participants in interactive fitness to simulate real-life sports moves while they watch their actions imitated on a television screen or computer monitor by animated characters, creating a virtual reality. Brain fitness, e-games, and exergames are colloquial names for such equipment. Such technology can identify speed of movement, calories burned, and the amount of pressure exerted through muscles. They can also guide users toward correct posture and proper execution of training moves.

Tennis is an interactive fitness game.
Tennis is an interactive fitness game.

Pioneered in the mid-2000s, interactive fitness was first marketed to children and teens to combat sedentary lifestyles and appeal to their desire for digital toys. In recent years, however, adults and senior citizens have embraced interactive fitness as a way to build tone, elevate heart rates and enjoy simulated sports activities inside their homes. The growing trend has made healthy interactive games nearly 20 percent of all video games sold.

Some modern video game systems offer interactive fitness activities.
Some modern video game systems offer interactive fitness activities.

Sports like tennis, bowling, and boxing are among the most common interactive fitness games used. Some manufacturers of video games, however, market special fitness programs that involve simulated personal trainers who guide users through an hour of calisthenics and other exercises. Games range from low intensity to high intensity and can cater to a variety of fitness levels. Both anaerobic and aerobic video fitness games are sold.

Many exercise advocates claim the emergence of interactive video games has increased the fitness level of young people, slowly easing them out of their static, sedentary lifestyles and allowing some to combat youth obesity trends. Many users, including the elderly, find the sounds, colors, and animation of interactive fitness to be more stimulating than traditional aerobics videos or in-home exercise equipment like treadmills and stationary bikes. Participants of all ages frequently report that interactive fitness improves their emotional moods and boosts energy levels while providing amusement.

According to a study comparing traditional exercises with interactive fitness, participants who worked out using interactive video games three times a week had a more significant increase in blood-oxygen levels; most users took in 8 percent more oxygen. The study also found that users of technology-based fitness were more likely to be consistent with exercise; they were usually 30 percent more likely to work out. Many fitness advocates advise mixing interactive fitness with standard training for the best benefits.

Most fitness-based video games are suitable for the whole family.
Most fitness-based video games are suitable for the whole family.

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