When you picture a video game nerd, what image comes to mind? Is it a pimply, chubby teenager sitting on his couch mashing buttons until his fingers bleed? Or is a smiling, fit and lean fitness buff?
If you usually imagine the former, maybe it’s time to update how you view video games. Ever since the Nintendo Wii burst on the scene, video games have turned from a sedentary escape to one of the most enjoyable ways to get fit.
But simply shelling out $299 for a PlayStation 3 isn’t going to give you a six pack.
Here are the top 5 video games that promote fitness
This is the program that started it all. While Wii Sports was the first game to get people off their butts to play, Wii Fit put everything together to really take video game-based fitness to another level – no wonder it’s the third best-selling console game of all time.
What makes Wii Fit really stand out is the Wii Balance Board – a peripheral that comes with the game. Using this balance board you can exercise in a surprising number of different ways. Depending on the game you can speed ski down a mountain, run a 400 meter relay race or tap into your inner chakras with a mellow yoga practice.
Seeing the popularity of Wii Fit, the team at Microsoft developed Your Shape. Your Shape uses the Kinect –an add-on for the Xbox 360 that tracks your movements using a tiny camera placed on top of your TV. What makes Your Shape different is that the workouts –not being limited to a balance board—are typically more dynamic and intense than Wii Fit. Also, Your Shape does a fantastic job of tracking your progress as you continue to exercise using it.
Like Your Shape, EA Sports Active 2 is not for the faint of heart –literally. This game –designed for people wanting intense workouts – comes with a heart rate monitor to track how quickly you recover from intervals. EA Sports Active 2 is unique because you’re able to easily customize your workouts (choosing upper body, flexibility etc.) depending on your fitness goals.
If you can’t get enough of Jillian Michael and her cast of characters on the popular TV show The Biggest Loser, then the The Biggest Loser: Ultimate Workout for Xbox 360 is for you. What people love about this game is that it comes with a step by step program (including nutrition!) that guides you from flabby to fit. Also, the workouts aren’t your typical “fun” mini-games that barely budge your heart rate. This game is packed with serious workouts that you’d usually find at your local gym.
The irony of grown men sitting on their couch completely sedentary simulating virtual NFL training camps while playing the popular EA Madden franchise wasn’t lost at the people at EA. To help make the training camp simulation a little more life-like, they created Active NFL Training Camp. If you’re looking for NFL-level fitness, this may not be the game for you. However, it’s the fitness video game with the most intense workouts that include all aspects of fitness from sprinting, throwing, stretching and strength training. It even comes with tracking sensors for your thigh and arm to sense how intense your workouts are.