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Seniors working out with the Wii

November 7, 2007 12:00:00 AM PST
Once blamed for hooking kids to television, video games might just the ticket to get our game on. Fitness-wise that is.Young and old alike are becoming human joysticks with the invention of new active video games.

It's time for bowling at the Pasadena Senior Center, but seniors don't head to the bowling alley, they play a bowling video game.

"The ball rolls down the alley just like it was a regular bowling alley and you adjust just the same way," Marsha Berger said.

In many living rooms across America, it's the same scene, people playing sports without ever leaving their home, courtesy of the game Wii Sports, which includes, baseball, bowling, boxing, golf, and tennis.

"It's fun and you feel a little bit stupid up there but it's fun," Jack Wilson said.

"It gets you up and moving, instead of being sedentary and I like to be active and moving," Carol Black said.

That's exactly the point. Dance Dance Revolution started it all about eight years ago. The arcade game proved so popular they now use it in public schools along with other games.

"All they're really doing is stomp stomp here, stomp stomp there, just for a workout. That way we can use muscles that we never knew we had," Elise Dehart, a student, said.

Because they're using more than a wrist or thumb action, the American Council on Exercise decided to put these so-called active video games to the test with good results. It turns out guys or gals, teens or adults, everyone's working up a sweat.

"So there is some hand eye coordination with that, you all have some activities that you can do together that are movement, cardio, physical and it's a lot of fun," Leslie Lollar, an exercise specialist, said.

Believe it or not, from a calorie burning standpoint, the workouts are similar to cycling, sport walking and impact aerobics.

"We all have to go shower after we play bowling with Nintendo," Berger said.

"It's built to get you up off the couch. You can't play the game sitting down," Jordan Dodge, of Activision, said.

Dodge says playing solo or group it's easy. And the best part? No violence.

"There's no blood, there's no gore, you're really tapping into one of your inner fantasies, which is being a rock star," Dodge said.

It's estimated that one in every three Americans over the age of 65 falls every year with devastating consequences, so games improving strength and balance help seniors stay independent and fit.

"It gets people together, it gets them up, moving, and keeps them happy," Black said.


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