How many times do girls hear their parents or teachers saying that teens play too many video games?  Gaming has such a bad reputation among so many adults. But in fact, playing video games may actually be good for you!

This week, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to attend the 2012 Games For Health Conference at Boston’s Hyatt Harborside Hotel. During day one alone, I met people from all over the world and heard presentations about games that can help kids and adults fight cancer, learn to cook, eat healthier, relieve stress, and deal with clinical conditions, to name a few examples.

And one of the healthiest video games is actually one of my personal favorites: Dance Dance Revolution (DDR). This classic video game has gone from good old fun to a program that can improve the health of people of all ages and conditions – how cool is that? 

In itself, DDR is a fantastic source of exercise – it’s fun, gets the heart pumping, and it’s easy to play with friends! Research has shown that teens who participate in DDR have huge health improvements, maintain a healthy weight, and are very likely to regularly play DDR because it’s much more fun than running on a treadmill or lifting weights.

Plus, the multiplayer option allows teens to play with their friends and get a healthy competition going that motivates them, and the exercise mode option can show players their calories burned and other statistics. Together, these factors are helping to fight the youth obesity epidemic as well as prevent the ‘Freshman 15′ by getting teens off the couch in a way that’s fun.

What’s even cooler about DDR is the two new directions that it has gone:

For one, DDR can be used as a form of exercise and physical therapy for people who are less physically able, such as the elderly and Parkinson’s Disease patients.

While typical forms of exercise and therapy often involve simple, repetitive routines such as squats and treadmill use, DDR is a dynamic option that tracks and encourages improvement as well as uses rhythm and music to work on coordination, attention, and range of motion. Research has even shown that Parkinson’s patients over the age of 70 who regularly play DDR can improve so much over time that they reach the ‘Heavy’ level- a major step in their overall body function and health. So even your Gramma and Grampa can benefit from playing video games!

Second, a new classroom edition of DDR is being prepared to launch in the Fall.

The classroom edition is specifically designed for the use of PE teachers and can be used by up to 48 students at a time! The students are then divided into teams and levels, so while each student receives a smart card that tracks their individual play record, calories burned and BMI, the screen shows the combined achievement of each team. Students can then enter data on a special social networking site which allows them to compare and track achievement as well as communicate with each other, parents and teachers.

The demos of this program have been incredibly successful, helping teens get active and enjoy it too while erasing the miserable PE classes filled with dodgeball and sitting around. Sounds pretty good to me.

Along with being one of my all-time favorite games, Dance Dance Revolution has so much potential to improve the health of our population, but it’s only one of the many games designed for this purpose.

Remy Marin attended the Games for Health Conference held in Boston June 12-14 showing casing the cool ways in which games can help people feel happier and healthier.  This is the first/second article in a two part series reporting on some of the insights she learned.

Remy is a sassy, hard-working girl who has been writing and interning for BodiMojo since it began 4 years ago! She is studying Dance Therapy and English at Skidmore College, but her personal mission to to help every teen de-stress and recognize what truly matters in life rather than getting caught up in the little things. In her free time (if she has any), Remy is the VP of her school’s peer mediation group, loves reorganizing her closet, and has a long list of DIY projects she wants to try. 

Similarly Awesome Articles:

  1. Dance, Dance: My Workout Revolution
  2. One Teen Tells Why She Loves Dance, Dance, Dance
  3. One Mom’s Thoughts on Exercise: Wii or not to Wii?
  4. Video Games can be Fun & Healthy
  5. Best Bones Forever! Presenting The Let’s Dance Contest Featuring Savvy


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