Reaching your fitness goals isn’t easy but not impossible either. If you are keen enough you can get fit even playing video games – it might sound weird but it is true. Fitness and technology continue on their path to be tightly integrated. Professional athletes, trainers, and fitness gurus have been using technology for years to plan, track and manage their fitness programs. In this day and age, the use of gaming consoles and video games has got a bad reputation that they promote lethargy and laziness. However, it is important to look at the bright side of everything as well. Gaming systems/consoles such as Xbox Kinect and Nintendo Wii offer a number of interactive video games that allow you to exercise and even reach your fitness goals that once seemed difficult to achieve.
University of Massachusetts (Department of Exercise and Health Sciences), University of Calgary Exergaming Research Center, and the American Council on Exercise all agree that proper use of fitness games on the video game console can be as effective as doing a regular workout in a gym or a moderate 30min walk. In this article, we have rounded up the most popular fitness gadgets and games for you that are great to use in the comfort of your home. Let’s get going!
Here are the two best gaming systems to do home workouts while gaming:
Nintendo Wii, released on November 19, 2006, is one of the best home video game consoles. It targets a broader demographics as compared to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. With the introduction of the Wii Remote Controller that detects movements in all three dimensions, the world of gaming took another step towards innovation. It succeeded the Nintendo GameCube and added a number of new features that were lacking earlier. There is a wide variety of best fitness and workout games offered by Nintendo that you can enjoy while getting fit (mentioned in the list below).
Xbox Kinect, initially called Project Natal, is a line of motion detecting peripheral devices produced by Windows for Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Windows PCs. It enables the players to interact with the console/system using gestures and voice commands, which mean you don’t need a gaming controller anymore. The first model of Xbox Kinect for Xbox 360 was released in November 2010 and a similar hardware version for Windows was released on Feb. 1, 2012.
When Kinect was introduced for Xbox One on November 22, 2013, Windows significantly expanded its hardware capabilities so the players can play a wide range of video games in high quality. Now Kinect for Xbox 360, Windows PCs, and even Xbox One are discontinued by Windows – marking the end of the Kinect product line. But there are still lots of excellent fitness and workout games available for these platforms that can be played with the Xbox Kinect.
Here is the list of best video games that can help you do effective workouts while keeping you entertained:
For Nintendo Wii:
With the release of Wii Fit on December 1, 2007, it became clear that the new craze in the world of fitness would be in-home programs. Wii Fit is an exercising video game made for people who want to do workouts in their homes without getting bored. It uses a Balance Board with the Wii home video game console. The game isn’t much intensive, yet effective enough to improve your posture and help you work towards your fitness goals. The Balance Board reads your weight and detects your center of balance for better exercising experience. Just like a regular video game where you set up your profile or alias, in Wii Fit, you need to set up a profile as well along with a Mii character (virtual YOU). There are more than 40 interactive activities you can choose from depending on your workout requirements such as yoga, aerobics, strength training, and other balancing games.
For Yoga and strength training, you have a personal instructor/trainer that gives you directions on what to do and evaluates your progress. The goal is to simply imitate the physical motion of the instructor and track the number of reps and/or time for each exercise. While it doesn’t replace a real person of course, for those who aren’t fitness gurus, it provides great guidance and structure to follow. From rehabilitation programs to senior centers, Wii Fit is used almost everywhere.
The Biggest Loser Challenge
This one is a smart exercising game for Nintendo Wii, it prompts you to enter your personal information like age, weight, height, and exercise level to provide you a customized fitness plan based on your goals. It will track your daily progress and even recommend routines, challenges, and nutrition information for each day based on your progress. You have a choice in the game to complete your workouts with the help of the Balance Board, resistance bands, or stability ball – you can even forgo the controller to focus vividly on the program.
My Fitness Coach
Unlike other fitness video games, My Fitness Coach provides a more technical and curated approach for the players. The game offers a ton of different exercises that you can choose from according to the type of workout you want to do. You can also opt for a personalized program by providing personal information like gender, age, weight, the circumference of your chest, bicep, waist, hips, and thighs etc. It does an excellent job in customizing a plan that is entirely focused on your fitness goals.
Whether you want to do exercises for weight loss, upper, core, lower body strength, or flexibility – this amazing video game is a complete package that includes all of them.
Zumba Fitness 2
Do you love Zumba? Whether you do or don’t know about it, you will love this amazing workout video game for full body. It includes over 32 different exercise routines. Not to mention the 20 types of dance styles, including the ever-famous salsa, flamenco, hip-hop, and more that you can enjoy while burning those extra calories. Your instructor will be a celebrity like Gina Grant who will guide you throughout the complete workout routine with your favorite soundtrack from popular artists like Pitbull and Nicole Scherzinger accompanying in the background. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner, intermediate, or an advanced player, the game’s easy video cueing system has a good learning curve that makes it extremely convenient for you to quickly grab the fitness routines. Also, a Zumba Fitness belt is included – you can slide your Wii Remote into it for hands-free dancing.
Not a fan of using Wii remote or balance boards? No problem. Your Shape is for you. It is an aerobic video game that offers nothing but only straight-up aerobics – enough to have those extra calories burnt. It doesn’t require any connection with Wii remote, all you need to do is use a webcam that will monitor and track your moves by projecting your image onto the TV screen – leaving your hands free so you can focus more clearly on your workout. Another exciting thing is that Jenny McCarthy will be your in-game coach, and you can choose from 6 different background colors, 100 motivating animations, and over 75 music tracks.
The game has over 500 different exercises, you can select the desired one according to your fitness goals. You can see yourself training hard with Jenny in real time on your screen. Indeed, a great video game for people looking to get into shape.
For Xbox Kinect:
Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012
Your Shape was also released for Nintendo Wii (mentioned above) but the 2012 version of this game for Xbox “Your Shape Fitness Evolved” proved itself as one of the best exercising games for Xbox Kinect. New activities including Latin Dancing, boot camp, Zen classes, are introduced along with another feature “Run the World” that lets you experience different environments on foot but without leaving the comfort of your home. The game can design a personalized fitness plan according to your fitness level, goals, schedule, and preferences.
Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 version is equipped with state-of-the-art motion technology that provides you feedback according to your body. Also, now the game includes floor exercises like push-ups and sit-ups. For more focused muscle group exercises, you can choose exercises targeting your abs, legs, glutes, back, arms and more.
Nike+ Kinect Training
Want to do an intense home workout focusing on endurance and cardio exercises? Nike+ Kinect Training is an excellent choice for an exercising game. Just like other exercising games, you have a virtual trainer and an option to have a fitness plan tailored according to your preferences and fitness goals. Also, there are lots of presets for fitness routines already available in the game to choose from if you do not want a customized routine. You can track your day to day progress and work on any fitness goals such as body toning, weight loss, or strength building etc.
Some exciting things that we liked in the game are jumping over virtual obstacles, dodgeball, and correcting your form/posture. Jumping over virtual obstacles is an excellent part of the game as it makes you feel like you are doing this in the real world.
As its name refers, you can get a beach body with this hardcore workout game. Beachbody P90X offers 30-day extreme workout program with custom routines according to your preference to help you get ripped. Also, explosive moves in the game work your muscle groups from head to toe – helping you get the body you really want. Plus, this game allows the Kinect to monitor your form with its built-in technology and gives you feedback to correct it as you play.
UFC Personal Trainer
Not the type of person who is into dancing or aerobics? No Problem. If you are an action and fitness lover, this video game is for you. Featuring a lot of MMA-inspired moves and UFC’s famous fighters, this game is definitely worth a try. Due to its different and exciting genre, UFC Personal Trainer video game stands out from the Kinect fitness game crowd.
Just make sure you are not too close to the screen when rocking those action moves!
Dance Central 2
Love dancing? Dance Central 2 is a proper dancing game that allows you to rock your favorite moves while still losing weight. Whether it is about visuals, competency of control, features, or songs, Dance Central 2 has them all. If you are dancing maniac, you will enjoy dancing on plenty of songs in the exhibition mode, and if you are a newbie, you will certainly love the exhaustive mode of the game.
Play solo or invite your friends for a small fitness session regularly to enjoy a good company while achieving your fitness goals.
The perks of using your video game console for fitness can be summed up as follows:
- They provide structured fitness programs to follow
- Regular progress and activity tracking
- You get visual feedback on your movements
- You can do it at your home – means you won’t need to drive anywhere and the fact that it is all private, makes you feel more confident
- Lots of options to find the right program for your fitness goals according to your preferences
- Cheap – no trainer fees required
If you’re looking to implement a fitness program and hitting the gym isn’t much of a priority on your list, then checking out a video game console fitness program is definitely worth it. And if you have kids that love gaming, there is a high likelihood that you already have a gaming console waiting for you to put your favorite exercising game in and play.