Saturday, December 19

Exergame Experts wish you "healthy holidays" with Video Games

The holiday season is always a health rollercoaster. We eat too much, watch too much TV and exercise too little and then make New Years resolutions that we can't keep. This year, make a change with Exergaming. The Exergame Network (TEN) reveals five ways of getting fit with video games, perfect for school kids to silver gamers with fun as the focus!

The good news for these holidays is you can over-indulge in fitness and fun by Exergaming. Exergaming is the combination of video games and exercise, ideal for a fun, social way to keep fit during the festive period. The Exergame Network brings you five Exergaming methods to suit everyone regardless of their age, ability or fitness level.

Most health and fitness resolutions revolve around dieting and joining a gym, but this doesn't work for everyone. So what about the rest of us, those that dislike gyms, dieting, boot camps or just find conventional fitness boring?

Exergaming succeeds because it makes exercise fun and involving. The exercise seems less difficult and second to the enjoyment of playing. Choosing the right style of Exergaming is vital in making it fun for you! The following CREWS list is a 'something for everyone' selection from five Exergaming catagories (for an interactive tour visit CREWS ):

1. Camera Exergaming – Your whole body becomes the controller as your movements are motion captured into the game (Eyetoy:Kinetic/Groove/Antigrav, Your Shape, Project Natal & Trazer 2)

2. Rhythm Exergaming – Become the musician or dancer and be guided by the music while the exergame records your dance steps or your musical timing. (Rock Band, Guitar Hero, We Cheer, DDR & iDANCE)

3. Exergaming Machines – Using real fitness equipment, the fun of the games takes your mind of the exercise. (Gamercize, Gamebike, Fitclub, GameCycle, BrainBike & Expresso Bikes)

4. Workout Exergaming – Follow your virtual personal trainer as they guide you through your workout giving feedback on your form and storing your progress. (EA Sports Active, The Biggest Loser, Your Shape and Wii Fit Plus)

5. Sensory Exergaming – These commercial exergames get you jumping and running for your score. (Lightspace Play, Makoto, BodyPad: Tekken 5, SmartUs & TWall)

TEN reminds you to think of 'CREWS' as an amazing way to engage, motivate and sustain exercise over your lifetime! To discover more about Exergaming, get practical advice and more information from TEN or connect with us on twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook . Now enjoy what some of the leaders on Exergaming have to say and how Exergaming can truly benefit everyone!

“Exergaming Machines are a time saving way to keep me fit. Last week I clocked up over 9 hours of genuine cardio, just by playing the latest Xbox release! It is important that everyone finds the Exergaming method that works for them, if you enjoy the activity there’s more chance of keeping at it and reaching the fitness benefits. Nothing kept in the back of the cupboard will improve health.” Richard Coshott, Gamercize Founder and CEO.

"People who normally don’t like to be physically active are willing to try Exergaming because it’s FUN. Parents tell me that this is the first time they’ve seen their kids sweat this much…and they don’t want to stop playing the exergames! Exergaming is the best intervention for the “couch potato”, and introduces physical activity that’s fun for the first time in their lives." Ernie Medina, Jr., DrPH, CHFS, preventive care specialist, Beaver Medical Group; CEO & “Exergaming Evangelist”, MedPlay Technologies.

“In Physical Education, we strive to provide a safe and positive learning environment that supports the needs and abilities of our students. Exergaming, in its many forms, is available in schools (before and after-school), at home, and in the community and thus has the potential to impact students.” Stephen Yang, Ph.D-ABD, M.S., B.S., Co-Director ExerGame Lab, Assistant Professor, State University of New York College at Cortland.

“Exergaming offers an alternative method of increasing heart-rate and building muscle bulk for those with disabilities. Real-world boxing, for example, offers an excellent aerobic workout for many able-bodied individuals, however is impossible for many with disabilities. Video-game based boxing, however, allows for simulated boxing with an avatar that is safe and achievable, while simultaneously being aerobically challenging. " Sheryl Flynn PT, PhD, Co-Founder

For more information - see the non-ploitical, non-commerical wiki site for T.E.N.

Monday, December 7

Position Vacant - Exergame Evangelist

So you want to be an Exergamer?

Many people claim to be in the position of professing the future of enjoyable exercise through video games, but it takes a certain metal to make the grade. If you think you have what it takes, read on...

You know there's more than one exergame on the planet (Yes, bore me with your "I read some bog posts" knowledge of Wii Fit somewhere else), you don't spam listserves or LinkedIn groups with mindless links or piggybacks no one cares to read or reply to? Well, maybe you can join ... the Exergaming Evangelists! Here's the job:


Follow in the footsteps of the Chief Exergame Evangelist and promote a form of physical activity that is the 21st century answer to inactivity and obesity.

Experience Required : You need to have delivered exergaming first hand to lots and lots (and lots) of people, and seen the realization in their eyes that fitness means fun, not pain.

Debating skills : You must be able to appreciate the viewpoints but firmly be able to counter the following arguments (using your own experience, research findings or yourself and others and first hand comments from users you have intorduced to exergaming):

1. Exergaming is not as much exercise as sport
2. Exergaming is not good enough to be MPVA
3. Exergaming is a fad and won't be used long enough
4. Exergaming is not social
5. Exergaming promotes those bad video games
6. Exergaming is too heavily branded - doesn't fit in with unbranded PE
7. Exergaming is keeping kids indoors when they should be outside
8. Exergaming is too hard to integrate in PE
9. Exergaming is unreliable and breaks down
10. Exergaming costs too much to buy and support
11. Exergaming doesn't include monitoring
12. Exergaming is a commercial solution that cannot be recommended by by non-profit/government
13. Exergaming research is commercially based and unreliable
14. Exergaming provides incorrect medical analysis
15. Exergaming is just for kids
16. Exergaming hasn't been proven to work for gateway effect / weight loss
17. Exergaming takes participants away from traditional sport
18. Wii Fit is endorsed by the NHS Change4Life Campaign

Background : You must have come from either the Fitness Industry, the Gaming Industry or the Parentally encumbered (tick as many as applies!!)

Remuneration: Nothing in cash terms. You must love people and exergaming enough to give up your free time and energy to help others with this new way of activity.

Well, I hope the last point hasn't put you off applying, if you can't see the benefits of exergaming past the dollar signs then you're better off in the carbon trading derivatives markets!!

Sunday, November 29

High Definition Exergaming is Available Now

Immersive Exergaming in HD

There is no need to wait for your favourite exercise console to step up; exergaming is in HD today with Gamercize. Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 full HD exergaming is available for online and solo play without the wait.

Gamercize is the company that turned exergaming on its head by putting the games and the fun first in video game exercise. All HD titles can be played with the patented Gamercize interface and a full range of genuine cardio fitness equipment.

Cowen Group survey results last week revealed that 77% of owners of the most popular exercise console prefer their Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. Gamercize agrees that the enjoyment of the game is what makes exergaming so successful, but uniquely Gamercize doesn’t compromise on fitness with an unchallenged cardio busting maximum 650 calorie per hour workout.

The Gamercize modular HD exergaming system gives options in fitness with the GZ Endurance cycle, GZ Power Stepper and the latest bestseller, the 3-in 1 Family Fit combination recumbent cycle, rower and exergame. Gaming with the latest titles is supported on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.

Console owners that have lost their way with workout games are not left out, as Gamercize supports Mario games too, and are encouraged to put the fun back into fitness video gaming with Gamercize.

Until December 7th the Gamercize campaign Game4Life is giving extra reason to enjoy being more active and healthy by offering £50, €70 or USD$100 cash discount on the top of the range Gamercize Family Fit that was shown on national TV last month. Visit for more information.

Tuesday, November 17

Exergaming Research in Shambles

Study Results from Professionals or Puppets?

Last week the American Council on Exercise released a study that showed Wii Fit didn't come up to it's standards of moderate to vigorous physical activity. This week Nintendo released a study showing that Wii Fit does meet the standards. Who is right?

The moderate to vigorous physical activity standard is very important. It's the basis behind every single country's government health advice. It's the sustained target at which fitness levels improve and overweight health risks can be reduced. Irrespective of METs and V02MAX measurements the basics are "activity that makes you sweat after 5 minutes duration".

Wii Fit is bringing researchers and active gaming (
and governments) into disrepute with the constant commercial push and pull with science fact. Largely this is all irrelevant when you look at figures from the Nintendo channel that show a half hour use per month average. Is it MVPA or not, it doesn't matter if you don't use it.

Ask people what they consider good exercise and you'll probably come back with running, swimming, cycling, sport and the number one answer - the gym. Think about what you find in a gym that makes people give this answer - that's right, cardio fitness machines. Now take a look at the picture below and ask yourself - why isn't this exergame (and others like it) being studied?

The reason is awareness, or rather lack of it, in the wider community. There are so many active gaming options available to suit all abilities and interests. Just take a look at the Interactive Fitness and Exergaming wiki site. It's time for researchers to research a bit more before starting trails to make sure they have right equipment under test.

Looking deeper into the work that ACE has done reveals a good tempate for results with easy, medium and hard settings tested, and the full range of biometric data. In looking forwards perhaps the standard needs to be set (or maybe ACE has already set this?) and the different options need to be explored.

Friday, November 13

Gamercize and the Game4Life Campaign

Raising awareness of active video games

Today Gamercize announced the Game4Life campaign, a common keyword for the exergame industry to use to promote all different types of active gaming products and initiatives.

Video games have been getting bad press for violence linked to aggressive off-screen behaviour recently with the release of Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, but this is only half of the problem with video game PR. This single game has united gamers under the banner of Gamer's Voice - a Facebook group that is growing with over 13,000 members in less than a week, started by Labour MP Tom Watson.

The other half of the criticisms aimed at gaming is that is makes you fat. Despite the gaming industry response to this criticism using Wii Fit as an example, the wheels have come off that cart with findings from the American Council on Exercise this week that proves Wii Fit isn't really exercise.

Game4Life is a keyword (not a logo, the one in this post is just a personal impression I liked!) to raise awareness that there are many many more options of video game exercise that do work for cardio fitness. Gamercize has an acclaimed heart thumping range of exercise options from it's compact Power Stepper to the new full sized Family Fit - 3 in 1 recumbent cycle, static rower and Xbox 306, PS3 or Wii exergame.

Use Game4Life as a promo code, in a blog headline or as a twitter hashtag and let the public (and the government, press and fitness associations!) know about your video game exercise product or service so we can dispel the other half of gaming criticism.

Saturday, October 31

UCLA Tech and Aging Conf

10-30-09: Had the privilege of being part of a panel, speaking on exergaming, games for health, and seniors at this conf., held at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. The theme was "Living Longer and Better Through Technology" so the topic of exergaming fit right in!

Besides presenting, had the chance to network with other folks interested in gerontology and hopefully, will be collaborating with some of these researchers in the near future on exergaming studies in seniors, since there is hardly any research in this area.

Monday, October 26

Wii Fit Plus (is not) Endorsed by NHS Government Health Department

Change4Life Campaign Accepts Nintendo (Gamercize is already in)

To be honest the headline you see here reveals an untruth that is circulating. The UK Department of Health does not endorse Wii Fit Plus, Nintendo or any other singular product or service. How do I know this, because Gamercize is a partner of the Change4Life campaign and the relationship is quite clear. We support Change4Life, not the other way around!

Kids cereal, soft drinks and chocolate producers are also partners with Change4Life - does this mean we should expect headlines like "NHS endorses soda and candy diet"? I think not.

Taking the positive from this marketing ploy (bear in mind Wii fit Plus is available this week in the UK, which is strikingly convenient for the timing of the news stories), there are good points here.

Even before the Change4Life campaign was started I was involved with the Foresight Report, which defined the need and composition for the campaign. The report sought to reduce screen time playing video games, and I campaigned to get the position changed to be reducing sedentary screen time and increasing active screen time.

Since then I have communication and conversations with the Chief Medical Officer, Head of Physical Activity and Minister of State for Public Health and the Change4Life team! I have even participated in the condemnation of the British Heart Foundations Change4Life advert that portrays all video games as "bad for you". This condemnation resulted in the next TV advert being aired showing a dance mat connected to a TV as an active video game!

The best news out of the inaccurate stories is the recognition that active computer games can now count towards the "60 active minutes" of moderate to vigorous physical activity that is a core Change4Life message. Previously the view of our Chief Medical Officer and just recently the Change4Life team was that active video games did not count as enough exercise. Gamercize certainly does, so I'm pleased to see this.

The last piece of good news (I hope it turns out to be anyway) is the UK Nintendo chief using the term "exer-gaming". Now one would hope that this could indicate Nintendo want to join the party for the common good. It has been suggested to me that it could also mean Nintendo are concerned about Natal and PlayStation getting physical and has decided to "own" exergaming for itself. Time will tell. Maybe we'll see Nintendo at Games for Health or joining the Interactive Fitness and Exergame Network?

Thursday, October 15

Video Games Saving the Planet - Blog Action Day

Online Gamercize Tournament Equivalent to planting 140 trees!

Today, October 15, is "Blog Action Day", when we have a unique opportunity to show how our specific areas of expertise relate to the theme of Climate Change.

As the utility bills come in it is easy to see the cost of energy is rising painfully. Apart from the cash cost of using fuel there is also the environmental costs, which is the focus of the blogging event. Climate change impact is most easily measured by carbon calculations.

Most people can have a little leeway in the miles they drive or tweaking the temperature setting by a few degrees, but the most obvious cost and carbon saver is the voluntary activities of leisure and sport.

I looked into what Gamercize's online exergaming tournament cost in terms of carbon, and what it would have cost had we flown one of the teams to make the event a face-to-face competition.

Taking into account heat, light, transport, electricity for consoles and equipment we used less than 6 lbs of carbon per participant for the tournament; going online with Xbox 360 for the games and Gamercize for the exercise. Next I ran the numbers again, this time as if we flew one team between California and England. We came out at more than 2,800 lbs of carbon per participant.

Although I am not a great fan of carbon offsetting (i.e. just use less energy to start with!), I checked, and in order to offset a face-to-face tournament against the actual online Gamercize tournament would have required planting 140 trees. What is more the competitors had a great day as you can see from the TV reports from both sides of the Atlantic in this video below.

So the next time someone asks you what your are doing playing video games, you can say, quite literally, "I'm saving the planet". For other ways to save the planet, check out Blog Action Day at!

Blog Action Day 2009 - Climate Change and Video Games?

Did you ever think video games and climate change could be related? Read on at

Friday, October 9

Tam Fry on Childhood Obesity at the Interactive Fitness and Exergame Seminar

Consequences of Inactive Life for Children

Last month saw the first seminar from the Interactive Fitness and Exergame Network from LinkedIn at LIW. It goes to show that collaboration on the web can lead to real action, and there's more than enough passionate and dedicated professionals in this group to make something happen.

Although the focus of exergaming may be on video games, the real purpose of exergaming is to improve health. Child Growth Foundation and National Obesity Forum chair, Tam Fry, spoke at this seminar to illustrate the problem and the consequences for children.

Mr Fry warned the delegates that the "Childhood population looking at a very unhealthy and uncertain future" and outlined some of the evidence.

"From the University of Newcastle the figures are just 3 in a 100 children are doing the recommended 1 hour of exercise a day. Only 1 in 5 parents know how much exercise children should be taking. After 10 years of messages we have failed to get though to parents in a understandable way exactly what their children should be doing."

The message that activity is being ingored also leads to dire consequences, as Tam exaplained:

"One third of children not doing enough exercise to the level of risking coronary heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes. The only way back for some children is to cut them open at fit a gastric band. This should always be the third option, but is increasingly becoming the second or even the first option."

Mr Fry offered some explaination as to why the population is in such trouble, with two areas for improvement for government policy.

"Over the last 20 years parks have been sold off, allowed to run down or become total no-go areas. From the National Obesity Forum, we have a clear idea that video games which encourage activity are very important and we're fully behind it. But, to have not then opportunity for people to go out and be active is a pity. Children love to play, you should give them the space, if necessary supervise to a degree."

School PE is seen as very important in providing a front line service against childhood obesity, and it was suggested that PE techers should be on the frontline when it comes to monitoring child weight as well as physical education development. That would only be if there still were PE classes and PE teachers.

"25% of children coming into school going into primary school at the aged 4 are overweight or obese. Perhaps the biggest problem is what is not happening. What is not happening in school is that physical activity has been allowed to disappear."

The talk greatly informed the seminar and put into perspective the importance of what the group is doing and what success in the interactive fitness and exergaming sector means, not in monetary terms, but in human terms.

The majority of the presentations from the group that were included in the seminar can be found at the slideshare event

Monday, October 5

How to suck all the fun out of video games

Fitness is not a game people!

Now we're having fun with our consoles by keeping fit... or are we. Let's go running and watch counters on the screen! No, let's not. Ok, let's go biking!! What, in a game where you don't actually travel anywhere - no thanks!

I think there's a place for fitness games, the ones that offer virtual workouts and electronic exercise programs. That place would be on the shelf, next to the exercise DVD, covering up the exercise videos behind. If you are workout motivated then these titles will do a far better job keeping you moving than the aforementioned DVD. You may even call them "fun", but consider this... if everyone enjoyed workouts there wouldn't be an obesity crisis, drop of in school sport or need for massive government health campaigns.

Yes, that's right - most people find workouts really really boring. That's why exergaming is way more than just workout games. Some people have even argued that video games are not an integral part of exergaming!!! (Those people are often recaptured quite quickly, so don't worry too much about them)

Gamercize is exactly what exergaming is all about - fun. Fun from video games. Fitness is there, for sure, but it's not the focus... it's like the exercise involved shopping; It's only when you get home with your bags of goodies after a mammoth day's shop do you notice how much effort you must have spent walking and how tiered you feel.

Exergaming needs to be fun, and needs to be fun for long enough to make a difference to the user's health. You may get a week's use out of a fitness game, but that's nothing compared with the immersion of compelling gameplay you get from the real videogames that Gamercize uses.

Need convincing? Mario Kart Wii has been in the UK charts for 76 weeks - Gamercize compatible and what's more damn good FUN!

Thursday, October 1

Weight Loss for Zombies

There's a lot of good reasons why zombies are a pretty unhealthy bunch, being undead is just one of them. They don't move much, they never run and probably don't even check the labels on food packages.

Traditional weight loss for zombies often involves losing a limb, more often than not through someone not wishing to be bitten who has a weapon of sorts for defense. When it comes to healthy life choices, there's not a lot of scope for a zombie.

You've probably encountered zombies on your xbox 360 or PS3 already, and seen how lethargic they are. You probably also know that the number one zombie survival technique is avoidance. My advice to you is make sure you're as fit and healthy as you can be, in case of an actual zombie attack. Improve your fitness levels now, while you still can - right here.

Wednesday, September 30

Common Exergaming Myths

Back to basics = fitness and fun!

Exergaming, or active gaming, is still a very new concept to mainstream media and within the public knowledge.

When I have spoken to officials and policy makers at last they now have heard of some for of exergaming or another, but sadly, there's many misconceptions.

Misconceptions in exergaming have come from media reports and more worryingly, research. Here's the top misconceptions I hear time and time again.

  1. Exergaming doesn't count as real exercise. The whole purpose of exergaming is to have an exercise component and there's very little value in exercise as a weight loss tool unless there's a lot of it. That's either high output for medium duration or low output over very long durations. This misconception has come from studies into Wii Sports - which isn't great exercise compared with exergames that utilise genuine fitness machines such as bikes and steppers, that are able to provide moderate to vigorous physical activity.
  2. Exergaming doesn't look like fun. The reason exergaming works for fitness is that it is fun, the exercise is incidental to activity and the enjoyment and immersion of the games keeps the mind off the exercise. This misconception has come from a wave of fitness themed "exergames" that deliver "celebrity exercise programmes" via a games console with virtual workouts and trainers. The exergames that work with real video games (Gamercize as an obvious example) tap into the principles that has been growing video gaming for the last 20 years by keeping the fun in the activity.
  3. Exergaming is not as good as real sports. The fundamental problem with this misconception is that exergaming and sports are different things and can't be compared. If everyone was playing sport then there wouldn't be a need for a physical activity that was engaging for all levels of condition, fitness and self-confidence. Yes, real sports are better in many ways to exergaming, but that's not what's required. What is required is something everyone can enjoy in a sustainable way to improve fitness and promote weight loss. The problem here is that researchers have been comparing exergame "sports" with real sports, asking something of exergaming that it's not trying to answer.
  4. Exergaming is gets boring for the long term. There's no point having an activity to boost fitness and conditioning if the user doesn't stick with it. This is a serious issue with pretty much all exergames I know of, but the ones that can counter this problem are those that are flexible enough to work will all, or even just a selection, of games. Research has show that a "single game" exergame gets boring after a very short number of weeks and statistics from one exergame manufacturer show a total average use time of just 18 hours in one year.

How do we solve these misconceptions and bust these myths? The answer is through diversity of research. There's too much media attention into the same old exergames that don't represent the best of exercise, fun or sustainability. It's up to the research community to research what exergames are out there and consider how they can be studied to provide policy makers with better information.

Thursday, September 10

Bible 2.0 - 7 Deadly Sins Revisited

Have you ever wondered if Web 2.0 is a good thing or not? With any good there also comes bad, so here's my cynical collection of bad practice that I have seen since I was introduced to the path of the new ways of web.

  1. Sheep Dip - Have you noticed how Web 2.0 appears to be about nominal popularity? Be it the number of followers on twitter or the number of views on an article. Here's the first deadly sin of Web 2.0, using the genuine popularity of something that's buzzing on the net to boost your own "numbers". I see this a lot with my line of work, exergaming. As an example, I would write a blog post about the iPhone 3GS and get a lot of page hits, or I could write a post about the phone I actually know and own (er, Nokia N95 if you're interested) and not get a single click. There's an overemphasis on numbers, that leads to a flock of sheep mentality, and someone always wants to cash in and stand out. Popularity is not a number, it's about quality - be yourself, don't follow and judge the value you add by the response you get, not the numbers!
  2. Blamming - I must admit, I have never studied genealogy, but it surprises me how many links in my family tree lead back to royalty in some principality of Africa. All I have to do is "click here" and I could be rich from all the $3 million dollar unclaimed legacies left in my name. Wow, don't you just hate spam? I just found out the name for the most annoying type of spamming - "blam". It's using Web 2.0's ability to interact and respond to post links to your own content. Again I see this a lot. You read a decent article on the web and there it is, in the comments, taking up space and devaluing the original article and misdirecting comments - a commerical link, vaguely related to the original content.
  3. Web 1.5 - This is a great sin, I find it highly amusing. The basis of Web 2.0 is user supplied content and interaction, but you still find those "forward thinking, web savvy" companies out there trying to get in on the act that really don't have a clue. It's those facebook fan pages that don't allow user comments, it's those twitter accounts that never reply to a @question, it's those sites that don't have comments or even name authors (yes, I'm looking at you right now!). I guess it's the combination of deadly sins 2.0 numbers 1 and 2 that lead companies to cut all chance to respond? I see user/customer/critique as a most valuable asset, but most of all I think it's rude to just talk and never listen!
  4. Core Dump - Have you ever had a program crash in Windows? Well, I'll go out on a limb here and bet there isn't a single person who hasn't seen this. To record this you get a dump file - it's full of every piece of data that is on the system at the time, and it's meaningless to almost everyone. Back to the point, there's a sin 2.0 I have seen that's very similar - people who use interaction to just keep talking, just keep posting, just keep overloading a genuine network with meaningless drivel until the network dies a death according to the "meaningless words to valuable content" ratio. Once again, I see a lot of this! This is probably the worst sin, as it's devaluing and dis-respecting others. If you have something to say - make sure you have something to say!
  5. Web Stalker - I have gotten this sometimes, and its pretty annoying. You find a Web 2.0 site that's relevant and interesting to you, so you interact and engage there. You're finding out about people, learning new ideas and sharing experiences, then hours later your own personal web stalker comes along and hits the site with a combination of blam and core dump. Of course the funniest thing is they ride off the back of what you say, often referring to you by name making everyone else think you're endorsing this person and have been acting as a strawman for their spam!!
  6. Wiki Warrior - I've not seen this too much, but it goes on all the time. It's the art of altering wikipedia pages to point to commercial sites or push points that lead to commercial sites. Personally I use wiki when I want to find something out, as an example I googled "wiki Australian cars" when I was trying to find out the name of a car for an Aussie pal. If I wanted a bunch of car markers and great deals on Australian cars I would have just googled "Australian cars". What I don't want to see on wiki is adverts, that's the point of going there! The most amusing aspect of this sin is the idiotic mentality that compels the wiki warriors to use brand names as user names. Is there no sense of propriety with these people?!!!
  7. Lazy Spam - I've found this specifically with twitter, you find some one that's looks like they would be worth listening to, you follow them and straight away you get followed back and a direct message along the lines of "Thanks for following me, for the best weight loss program go to ". If you are going to abuse Web 2.0 for commercial gain, then have the common decency to actually put a bit of effort in or think about it!

Ok, that was fun, now I should just point out that none of my friends (the only people remotely likely to read my blog!) have been guilty here - but if you're reading this and it sounds familiar then you've been caught out as a Web 2.0 sinner! Repent now and change your ways!

Now I hope this post gets hit will all the blam, core dumping, web stalking and all those other transparent tactics - it's just for a bit of fun :) I've made a start already by following the sheep and tagging this post incorrectly!

Wednesday, September 9

How do you rate exergaming?

Active games have a fun element, but that depends on what you call fun.

You may think that all exergames or active games are pretty much the same. You put a disc in your console and off you go, happy, busy, good. Well, it's not quite that simple. There are different types of exergames, and within these types there's quality and disasters.

I like to think this time in exergaming's history has similarities with the great Video Games Crash of the early 80's. I have always approached exergaming from the gaming rather than exercise perspective (which is a minority viewpoint in the fraternity) but time will tell if who has the right end of the stick and who has ... well, the other end.

Back in the 80's the popularity of videogaming went mainstream and floods of really poor quality games that went unsold. The consumers lost confidence and held back on all purchases, bringing the video game industry to it's knees. I don't think exergaming will go through a period as bad as this, but I can foresee similar times ahead.

The most obvious exergaming genre is the fitness "game", the types like Wii Fit, EA SPORTS Active and all the other similar themed titles that replicate exercise via your console. I have my own views from a gamer's perspective that these titles are just too dull to warrant any of my active screen time, but that's the point, some people like them, some don't. Personally I'd take Gamercize and Call of Duty over simulated running round a track any day. However, as fitness themed games go, there's a lot titles in that genre and a lot of variance in quality.

In the fitness game genre, take two examples to prove the point on quality. Both EA SPORTS Active and Jillian Michael's Fitness Ultimatum have somewhere approaching 500 reviews each on, but EA gets well almost 300 five star reviews, while the Ultimatum is given a similar amount of one star reviews. One game will get you fit the other will disappoint and demotivate you. You can see there's two aspects at play here as to if an exergame will work for you:

  • Is it the type of game that you're interested in?
  • Is the actual title a good game of that genre?
Good questions, but as yet no answers, UNTIL you part with your hard earned cash and take a gamble. We live in a different world of collaboration and information these days from the 80's when word of mouth was the communication method that unseated many poor video games. We should be better at avoiding mistakes.

Communication and collaboration for exergaming is working right now, to try and answers the questions of features, attributes and experience that'll make video game exercise work for you. The collaboration comes from a group of industry experts, researchers, supporters, users and observers from a LinkedIn group that closely resembles an anarchic collective.

In this group we're working on a model for an exergaming rating system - you can see what we have so far on the wiki site that's been put up. We've had a go at rating Wii Sports, Wii Fit and Konami's console DDR for now, just to test the rating system. There's a lot of work going on by good people, donating time and effort freely, so I expect this system will not only be pretty good - but also unbiased and consumer focused.

If you think you can help us with this, from a standpoint of professional or wide personal experience, then jump on the LinkedIn group, maybe even one of the skype calls (next on Saturday 12th @ 5PM ET). Let's not make the same mistakes with exergaming that were made with videogames in the 80s. After all, back then it was a but of fun at stake, with exergaming it's the future health of ourselves and our children.

Tuesday, September 1

Are video games sport?

Health Promotion in the Golden Decade of Sport

When you watch sport on TV how would you choose to participate, join a local club or go buy the video game?

This presentation explains what the Golden Decade of Sport means, and how it relates to increased physical activity and healthy lives. If video games steal the show, how can this be of benefit to health promotion? Find out more...

Friday, August 14

The Missing 9th Protocol

Making Change4Life really N.E.A.T.

There are 8 core messages in the Change4Life campaign, and sometimes they are described poorly, in targeting video gaming over the real bad screen time of TV watching where snacking is the sting in the tail.

The core messages are good, however, and they are (in the order chosen by the Change4Life campaign:

  1. Sugar Swaps - Basic advice to go for the low calorie option
  2. 5 a Day - Sensible stuff, a balanced diet including 5 fruit or veg a day.
  3. Meal Time - Hardest to implement, make a regular time for healthy meals.
  4. Snack Check - 2 Snax Max, and try to turn one junk snack into a healthy one.
  5. Me Sized Meals - This is a good one, make sure meal sizes are appropriate for kids.
  6. Cut Back Fat - Simple advice like grill don't fry, all sound basic advice.
  7. 60 Active Minutes - Moderate to vigorous physical activity! Get some exercise!
  8. Up and About - Limit screen time to 2 hours per day (What about active gaming!!!!!?)

They look pretty sensible on the whole, but there's one missing... and it's a big one. While there is one message promoting explicit exercise there is no message to choose to be more active, no matter how much energy you expend. What we are missing is:

  1. Just Keep Moving
This is so easy and so less daunting than 60 Active Minutes, and it follows the concepts of "Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis". That basically means just keep moving, but it's an important concept that's easier to build into modern life than going to play in the park 365 days a year every evening.

An easy example of N.E.A.T. is to leave you TV remote by the TV instead of on the sofa. If you change channel, get up, move! If you're channel hopping, stay stood up. There's lots of ways you can be NEAT with your life, just think about all the time you are stationary for hours on end. In the office, get up, go speak will a colleague in the same room instead of sending an email!

Change4Life needs to be promoting this message - for most people in modern lives going for an hour of exercise a day is just not sustainable, but a low level of effort most of the time does make a difference and leads to more energy and ability to tackle the hard hour-a-day workout.

Here's a little more on NEAT if you're stuck for ideas:

Thursday, August 13

Looking After Our Town Centres Scheme

Free video games for all!

In bleak times there are sometimes rays of hope, and today the British Government will announce a scheme that is just that.

During hard times traditional focal points for shopping, the town centre, have casualties and some shops close. Boarded up shop fronts give a bad impression of an area and add to the doom and gloom of the current situation.

The government scheme is set to provide funding up to £50,000 for temporary regeneration, including using empty shops as art galleries and mother and baby centres. Could more be done? Well, yes... what about the current health crisis where being physical active is just too boring, time consuming and expensive?

There's an opportunity here to address both issues in one hit. Use the funding to create Gamercize game gyms. Why Gamercize? Pound for pound on capital expenditure it's the most sustainable form of video game exercise, allowing any game title to be used for fitness. What's more it's far the least expensive option and it is the only option that allows parents and children to play together.

Do you want to have access to the latest games and consoles without the expense? Do you know you need to get more exercise but can't find the time or anything interesting to do? If the answer is yes, then tell someone, in this case, your MP. Here's what you do:

1. Find your MP by entering your postcode on or

2. Send them this message

RE: Looking after our town centres scheme

I welcome the guidance and necessary funding put forwards by Government to re-use empty space in town centres for community benefit.

A recession at the same time as a health crisis gives city leaders and fund holders an opportunity to address both issues with one action.

I propose using empty shop spaces for Gamercize game gyms. This will:

· Increase physical activity levels in hard to reach audiences
· Provide a focal point for beneficial youth community
· Revitalise commerce in the local shops due to increase traffic
· Provide employment for local people in gym supervision
· Show England as technical, health and social innovators

Gamercize will part-subsidise every game gym opened and provide ongoing support and promotion for sustainability.

Gamercize is the only game fitness option proven to engage all of the people all of the time and outlives “fitness fads” associated with video game exercise.

Gamercize is a partner of the national Change4Life campaign and I urge you to consider a Gamercize game gym for our town centre.

Let's get some free fitness gaming going in your area, we'll help but it's time for our elected representatives to act!

Saturday, August 1

Government Admits Health Policy Flawed

Millions in taxpayers money is knowingly wasted.

A report in the Daily Mail from Sarah Harris shows that nearly two thirds of teenagers do no physical activity at all. Government, responsible for spending over 250 million in "get out of the house" health promotion, admits that bad weather and kids skipping sport are more realistic driving factors.

Schools Minister Ian Wright has admitted that the findings, reported from a year long survey of 12,000 children, were news to the Schools Department. The government position has been criticised by the leading Child Health Expert, Tam Fry who described the government as being in "cloud cuckoo land". Opposition schools spokesman David Laws described the government's excuses for failure as "desperate and unconvincing".

Even before the report was commissioned, the government has been made aware of the problem of making sport fun and engaging, and has unheeded this advice and failed to act to even investigate the possibilities. What they have been told is that interactive technologies, such as video games and the web are far more engaging to today's youth; and these technologies should be used to deliver physical activity.

Video games engage teenagers because they are fun, it's social and it's their choice. Gamercize delivers physical activity (that surpasses exertion levels of school sport) using video games, not just the odd title, but all games. That's why Gamercize is best placed for teenagers to get some exercise - it's fun, it's social and it's their choice.

What's the next step for the nation's health? Perhaps the best people to decide the strategy would be those that are in touch with teenagers themselves? Our money is being used to promote a fundamentally flawed approach that is not working, has never worked and will never deliver - I think it is time for the whole government strategy to be audited, reviewed and held to account.

Wednesday, July 22

When did fitness machines get so sexy?

Gamercize Family Fit

It's not just the looks that make the GZ Family Fit cool, it's the functionality, a rower, a recumbent cycle and (of course!) Gamercize active gaming interaction that let's you play Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or Nintendo Wii - but only so long as you keep cycling! Check it out...
Rower : A powerful full body workout. Seat back protects from lower back injury, associated with other lesser rowers for a safe and comfortable workout.

Cycle : Smooth and painless way to shed the pounds and improve fitness. Seat and rail fold up when out of use, taking up less space in the home than most upright cycles.

Gamercize : The best in exergaming technology provides all the distraction from the effort of exercise with video games, available for Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

This is pretty cool and is priced a lot less that you would think... see for yourself here.

Monday, July 20

New - Gamercize Shop

Worldwide portal live!

There's some pretty cool stuff going on in here! Take for example the World of Warcraft Fitness Edition, or maybe you want to get active with The Sims 3"Slim it up!".

There's a wide range of delivery locations and of course, buy in your own currency!

Take a jump over to now!

More to Come from the Calorie Burn Benefits of Exergaming

Wii and DDR show the trend!

It's good to see the recognition that DDR has given exergaming in the raising of awareness that active video games can burn calories. BUT, there is more to come.

As you can see from the chart Nintendo Wii and DDR (Dance Mat) are indeed good exercise, something that we published in 2006, so it's not really news to us. What I'm waiting for is the researchers to pick up on Gamercize, with it's whopping calorie burn of over three times Nintendo Wii.

But that's not the full story, Gamercize is configurable, so if you can't kick out 650+ calories per hour, then you can tune it to your level. In the case of the Power Stepper you can bring back the effort to DDR levels, and with the Endurance Cycle, back down to Wii/Eyetoy levels.

It's important that you (or your personal trainer) sets the level of effort required, because everyone is different, and everyone should be allowed to achieve at their current ability and given the chance to improve.

Wednesday, July 15

Get Ready for the Fitness Revolution!

Exciting new development from Gamercize!
Could you make a difference in people's lives, a real difference? We do and soon you'll be able to join this revolution in the way fitness is delivered, and make a difference too.

Technology is the entertainment media that's displacing sport and physically active pastimes. This is bad for the public health and bad for future. We're changing all this right now, not by banning the xbox or cutting out the computer time, but by working with technology instead.

It's survival of the fittest out there, and Gamercize is helping more and more people get active lifestyles and making sure that it is fun and enjoyable.

Monday, July 13

What's the best exercise game?

Answer these 2 questions for your personal results!

  What games console do you have/want?   

  What video game do/would you like playing the most?   

  The best exercise game for you is   

This shows you don't have to buy a gym on a games disk to get fit. If the gym didn't do it for you then a gym on your console that can be easily swapped out for your favourite game won't either!

You could be burning up to 650 calories per hour without noticing the effort playing your favourite game on your favourite console.

For more information see for PC and Mac, for Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii or for PlayStation 2, GameCube and Original Xbox.

Monday, July 6

Revealed - How to get fit with the Nintendo Wii

Nintendo Statistics Show Us the Way!

Take a look at the statistics reported from the Wii channel usage from Kotaku's original post.

For a year of Wii Fit release, the average gamer time is 18 hours and 18 mins. Wow. Can you get fit by spending an hour and a half per month on the balance board? I thought not.

Now check out Super Smash Bros Brawl and Mario Kart Wii - That's over 8 hours per month, 130 min per week and very close to the 150 mins per week asked for by the US guidelines.

With those two stats, how do you get fit with the Wii? Use Gamercize and play the games that keep you coming back for more. It's all about the games, the fun and stealth exercise. QED.

How can you make this happen for your health and fitness? Check out

Monday, June 29

Active Gaming - The Social Phenomenon

Peer fun rules ok!

This is a presentation from the Games for Health Conference 2009 that I was lucky enough to attend. It's about Active Gaming (or exergaming if you prefer) - that is using computer games for exercise.

One criticism of active gaming that I hear sometimes is that there's no social interaction, not like real play or sports. Active gaming is not an replacement or an outsider to those activities, it's actually an integral part of both play and team exercise, and this excellent insight shows the social aspects.

Thursday, June 25

What's wrong with exergaming? Wii Fit, that's what!

Active Gaming Consumers Still Being Mislead.

I have read Canada's Globe and Mail ever since we were awarded the prestigious accolade of "Most Evil Gadget" back in 2007 and I tend to pick up quite a few exergaming stories from them.

The news that a new 5 year study into exergaming is talking place in Calgary is very welcome although, from experience, there needs to be sustainable exergames in the research! Luckily the Positive Gaming iDANCE (although referred to as Dance Dance Revolution in the caption!) is in the mix so there is some chance of a positive outcome, but to make it a certainty would need to include Gamercize instead of Wii Fit.

If only to prove my point there is commentary from Dr Ian Janssen in the article, who has very negative, but very common, experiences with a very narrow selection of exergames, namely Wii Sports and Wii Fit.

“I don't think it's a good idea to be teaching children to be active this way,” said Ian Janssen, an assistant professor in the community health and epidemiology department at Queen's University in Kingston.

The games have no place in schools, he added.

When Dr. Janssen became aware of Wii Fit and a similar game, Wii Sports, he was intrigued – especially when he saw his nephew playing a vigorous game of virtual tennis. But the feeling soon turned to dismay as his nephew quickly adopted shortcuts; a full tennis swing became a flick of the wrist, for example.

Much of Dr. Janssen's work involves helping to determine how much activity children need to stay healthy. Canadian guidelines recommend that children get at least 90 minute a day more than their current level, he says, at an intensity that's moderate or vigorous (moderate activity should cause you to break a sweat within five to 10 minutes.)

He doesn't think time on Wii consoles should count toward any of those recommended 90 minutes. “To me, the Wii Fit still falls in the category of sedentary behaviour.”

Yes, Dr Janssen, you are 100% right, but I do have the following points in defense of the Wii options. Firstly, Wii Sports is fun, and if you take it seriously with the boxing game, it is exercise. Similarly Wii Fit was never intended to meet and MPVA targets, merely make one aware of their health, but the jogging game is good exercise. Both of these said, Wii Sports is weak on exercise and Wii Fit is short on fun.

There are many more exergaming options out there that have both fun and fitness in the right doses for an anti-obesity prescription - Gamercize as my example puts heart rates right up in the MVPA zone and provides the sustainability that's associated with video gaming the world over.

The take-away point for this post is that if you've been disappointed with the top promoted exergames, consider why there is less hard sell on the others. Maybe it's because these products sell themselves with out the hype? My advice for those that have not found the Wii options appropriate is to take a look at what the console is being used for and read the following article.

Friday, June 19

Exergaming Fundamentals

What attributes make effective active games?

You may be surprised to learn that over the last five years gamers have racked up an estimated 1 million years of gameplay on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 worldwide. Combine these two consoles with all the others in circulation and you can get the real scale of the video game industry - a total of over 265 million game titles were purchased last year in the US alone, that’s nearly one for every man, woman and child in the country. 97% of teenagers either own of play videogames, girls almost as much as boys. Video games are fun and here to stay.

Exergaming takes the fitness aspect of exercise and combines it with the fun factor of video games, this is the definition in the basic sense, but there’s a bit more to it for an exergame to be effective. For any form of exercise activity to be effective the user has to be enjoying it - that way they will spend enough time engaged to realise health benefits. Exergames must have sound foundations, here’s the fundamentals and what they mean.

Engagement. In order to provide exercise the activity must be one that people will engage in. To do this the fullest spectrum of gaming genres need to be catered for. 80% of teenagers play 5 or more genres of video game, this means some love racing games, others are far more involved with strategy games, only by making all of these available can exergames engage the largest population.

Accessibility. The exercise element of an exergame should not discourage anyone based on their current physical ability. This is achieved by detaching the physical performance from the video game performance, making the exercise incidental and allowing those with lesser ability to access exergames as a rewarding activity. If an exergame is based on physical ability, rather than physical activity, then the population with the most to gain could easily be discouraged.

Sustainability. Making sure people are engage and can participate with their own ability is a start now, we need to make sure they can sustain their interest. Exergaming is only as good as the video game behind it, and if gamers get bored they will go back to inactive gaming. Being able to change the game used for another game mirrors the behaviour of video gamers, who typically move on to a new game every 2 or 3 months. An exergame has to follow this formula of success that has sustaining inactive gaming for many decades.

Social. Gaming has now grown to the point that the population supports a wide social community. Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii consoles all offer online gaming networks, and exergames need to support these environments, not just technically, but also in terms of cost of purchase and space.

Considering these factors we now have a shortlist of exergames that have the ability to deliver exercise to our target population in a fun and sustainable way, but how can we employ this new technology? Check out the answers in this presentation:

Thursday, June 18

Active Gaming - A Look Into Future Generations

The Logic behind Exergaming

You must take a look at this presentation, it fully explains the thinking behind Gamercize and other active video games, that make fitness fun!

Thanks to Lisa and Mike for putting this together and sharing it with us!

Wednesday, June 17

Exergaming - Making exercise fun, for everyone

Free awareness card packs at Games for Health!

Games for Health in Boston this year was a much larger event that last year, showing the increased need and following not only in games for health, but specifically exergames!

The vast majority of the general public, even a good proportion of the delegates, have very little knowledge of the number of products in this space. For most it's just exergaming is Wii Fit, even poor old Wii Sports has been forgotten now. But there's so much more!

There is problem with this lack of awareness; if you don't like exercises like Wii Fit or if you don't lose weight with Wii Sports then it's a bad assumption to make that exergaming doesn't work. You've just not found the right one for you!

This is why it's important to see the whole selection, and why we pulled together a group of products that can be considered exergaming, 38 products in all, not just Gamercize. As the key message of exergaming is all about fun, we turned this into a card game for delegates to take home and play!

Here's a link to the conference live blog and some instructions on how to play -

The 38 products is the card list we used, so don't forget there's even more exergames out there - take a look at the exergaming wiki at and check that out, see how exergaming can work for you or your school and meet some of the people behind the genre!

Sunday, June 7

What Exergame is Right for You?

Revealing Results from Facebook

There are many confusing options in the world of active gaming, or "exergaming" as it's being referred to. Most people tend to think of Wii Fit, but what if you've already tried this and it's not got you moving and given you no more exercise than reaching for your copy of Mario Kart? There are exergames for everyone, so if you've tried something that's not worked for you or you're looking to use technology for fitness then do not despair and don't make a costly mistake!

Exergaming is so much more than Wii Fit, so if you're not seeing the fitness benefits you were lead to believe then take this test on Facebook - "What exergame is for you?". Answer honestly and you'll find the perfect exergame that will keep you interested in fun exercise that's right for you!
The results from the quiz may surprise you and probably save a lot of hard earned cash in your quest for the perfect beach body this summer! Go to and see what type of active gamer you really are!

Tuesday, May 19

Active Gaming is Stealth Exercise

Effective Fitness Motivation

Everyone knows exercising leads to increased fitness and fitness leads to enjoying a more active life. That is why there are gyms, fitness centers and home gym equipment. The biggest problem in reaching that elusive next level in life is maintaining motivation. How many people have bought home gym equipment, only to leave it unused after a few weeks? How many people have bought gym membership at the start of the year and give up going by then end of May?

Too many. Time and money wasted, not because these approaches are no good, but because the improvement is so gradual it is easy to think you are getting nowhere and just give up. It's no fun, it's tough, you don't have the time and you can't see it making any difference. Very easy to understand, most of us have been there and done it.

Just think about PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 now. How many people buy these things, and make excuses not to use them? How many Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo games consoles sit unused in the garage? Here is a proven formula for motivation and fun! What a shame playing video games is no good for you compared with playing on the sports field? That has all changed now Gamercize has come along!

Attempting to put fitness into video games is not a new idea, it's been tried as long ago as 1982 by Atari and has grown to be called "active gaming" or "exergaming". The problem is putting fitness into games has always focused on the exercise, taking away from the game in terms of quality or control. Remember the gym vs the console? - Motivation comes from enjoyment. Putting fitness into a racing game is a fair example of what I mean. The more effort you expend the faster the car goes. Great concept, but in practice it becomes tedious compared with the temptation to change the game for the next shiny new disc which arrived in the post this morning and has the internet raving about gameplay and graphics.

So can you see why Gamercize is so popular and successful for people striving to better themselves? Reduce the interaction, so exercise can be automatic, and every game can be played with exercise! Like walking and talking on a phone, or running while listening to an iPod, like playing football on the beach or playing in the park with the dog - it is fitness by stealth with the focus on the fun.

Now change the game with that shiny new disc that arrived in the post this morning and the motivation is boosted even further. Exercising with this much motivation, and without a conscious effort, will take you to your fitness goals.

Sunday, May 17

Change4Life - 60 Active Minutes from active gaming

So you're struggling to get out to the park for an hour every day week in, week out? There's never a problem finding time to play video games so why not use this entertainment for your exercise?

Saturday, April 18

Free FM Pedometer during Games for Health month from Gamercize

It may not be Nike+ and an iPod, but it's free!

To celebrate the fifth annual Games for Health conference in Boston, MA a pedometer with built in FM radio will be bundled free with every Gamercize purchase in June!

The key message for this offer is to support active lifestyles, a commitment Gamercize has made in partnership with the government awareness campaign Change4Life.

Using Gamercize's patented exergaming fitness machines with video games consoles such as Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PS2 makes you fitter and more healthy.

Take advantage of your new abilities and increased energy with this offer from Gamercize and listen to your favourite radio station as you take on the ultimate level - the great outdoors.

Gamercize recognises the purpose of exergaming and Games for Health not as just a fun way to be fit but also to bring improved public health to the masses. For more information on Gamercize visit, where this offer will be made official at the end of this month. For more information on Games for Health in general visit

The Games for Health Fifth Annual Conference will be held in Boston between June 11 and 12, with a special pre-conference date of June 10. To book for this event visit