Category : Sports

Video games for fun and fitness

Wii Fit PlusI think our family is in the minority in that we do not have a video game console system. Most people I know of these days have either an Xbox or a PlayStation of some variety – maybe both. As for us, the last console that we owned was a Sega Dreamcast (mostly for the excellent game Soul Calibur). That was before we had children, and while I’m sure it’s safely packed away somewhere, I have no idea where that might be.

Generally I do not find that console games are “good” for kids. I suppose they serve as a diversion from reality, and are fun for kids to play with, but most of the games I’ve seen on these consoles are popcorn for the eyes, with too-fast-paced action, lots of animated violence, and little else.

That said…

My parents do have a gaming console… a Nintendo Wii. It is several years old now, but still in good working condition. They have a variety of games for it, including Just Dance 1, 2, and 3, Zumba Fitness, and Wii Fit Plus.

When we visit my parents, our kids enjoy playing on the Wii, and while I’m usually not impressed by console games, I’m very impressed by the way the Wii manages to incorporate fun and fitness. Wii Fit Plus, for example, has a variety of different games that kids can play that will track what sort of exercises they are doing, how active they’re being, how their balance stacks up, and how many calories they are burning. Our daughter in particular will play on the Wii for ages, going through the different games, doing lots of dancing and moving about, and generally getting in shape while having fun.

The Wii has been discontinued, and it doesn’t seem that many modern gaming systems require the use of the entire body to play. I think that is too bad – but I am hopeful that there will soon be more games that people will play that combine fun and fitness. I think these sorts of games are great for both body and mind. I’d certainly play them!

Have you caught the running bug?

Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5K at Disney's Animal KingdomThis evening, Yvonne and our son are running the final Expedition Everest Challenge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I’m hanging out at home with our daughter; though we didn’t run this particular race, we went for a walk in town to see an art show, had a drink at our local coffee shop, and then walked home from town.

Running is a great sport to get into if you’ve got kids, and it’s a great sport to encourage kids to participate in. In most sports, you have winners and losers – a winning team or athlete, and then the losers who didn’t win. But in running, while you do ordinarily have winners of races, the focus is not so much on being the fastest person in the race (and in a race full of 2,000 people, there will only be one of those) but to be as fast as you personally can be, or to accomplish goals or milestones that you set yourself.

As such, running is the sort of sport that you always feel you can get better at – you can always improve your personal time, or if you’re doing intervals of running and walking, you can work to lengthen your running intervals or speed up how fast you travel during intervals.

While some people believe that “making everyone a winner” is taking away what it means to compete, in running, if you have done the best that you can do – if you’ve tackled your own personal goals – then you can declare yourself a winner. It’s a very internal thing, and if it’s kids who are doing the running, running the races, or working to improve their health and fitness, then it’s something that they can work toward without feeling that they’re not good enough or that they will never be skilled enough to compete.

If you haven’t tried running races with your kids yet, you should check it out. It’s great for your health and lots of fun! And in certain races, you can even dress up in costume to run them… how fun is that?