Thursday, August 25

How to Fit Exercise into a Busy Schedule

"I don't have the time to exercise, I'm too busy"

Does this sound like you? Getting the time for exercise is next to impossible, some say. Where do you find an extra hour a day? If you look at exercise this way, chances are you won't find the time, but think differently.
"The question is not how to fit exercise into my busy schedule, BUT How can I make exercise part of my routine?"
Routine is important, its habit, it's sustainable, it's the comfort zone. Schedules infer lack of choice, time boxed activities, it's the obligation zone. If you have kids you'll know how important routines are; Your child needs a routine for comfort and you change your schedule around to suit THEM! Making sense? Hope so, (especially to parents!!) but what can you do to implement this missing aspect?

The very simplest way of doing this is to take the stairs, not the elevator or escalator. If you work in London, or another major city, you'll probably find taking the stairs is quicker than the queue for the escalator anyway! (Well, probably not at first, but you'll get there!).

That's not going to get you all the way to 60 minutes a day though, although it'll be the right intensity. Here's a tip, take a diary (journal) of all the "free" screen time you have. Be it playing video games, surfing the web, listening to songs on YouTube, checking your Facebook or reading Blogs. Is there any pattern? Chances are there is, and after a few weeks you should have an hour a day (including weekends), so let's use this.

I'm not suggesting you forgo your leisure time in favor of going to the gym or out running, that's changing your schedule, and that's a bad tactic. What I'm looking for you to do is change your routine - instead of having this time as sedentary, making the behavior change to Active Screen Time (AST).

If you spend a lot of time on the computer or internet, use the Gamercize PC-Sport to make this active time. Studies indicate this will improve your BMI and health with a more efficient cardio vascular system, i.e. you'll be fitter. If you play a lot of video games, change that journalled sedentary time with Gamercize Pro-Sport for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. We're not suggesting you change the game to a tedious exercise game, keep playing what YOU want to, Gamercize works online, offline with the games people play for entertainment.

Tuesday, August 23

Gamercize Research Information

Any time, any thing, any place - Gamercize delivers!

Here is the current list of Gamercize studies that have been published. You will notice there is no "back-page" to this publication, the reason being there is more to add!

I hope you can see that a sound concept leads to sound results! It should be recognized that it is the effectiveness and flexibility of the products that lead to these great results, if you have not experienced Gamercize, maybe it's time to put it to the test yourself!

Sunday, August 21

Getting the Team Spirit into Exergaming

Group exergaming in teams? Gamercize shows you how!

The video gaming world has progressed from the solitary player of the late 80's, "two player mode" was always the greatest form of gameplay. Now those days are gone, with "online mode" being king - or are they? Gamercize works with all games on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, in all modes of play, and an often overlooked mode of "Linked Play" has to be one of the best exergaming experiences, it's multiplayer in teams!

One of the main advantages of linked play in exergaming is that it's a safe and controllable environment for users such as schools and clubs. Linked play gives equal levels of engagement of online play, with the simplicity in technology of single player mode. It's like the racing video games you see in arcades, with four cars next to each other, everyone gets a screen but the play is linked in the game.

Here's what you need to get exergaming in linked mode, using the Xbox 360 as an example. First you'll need a suitable Gamercize setup, and double it. A good configuration is a screen, Xbox 360 and 2x Gamercize Pro-Sport Power Steppers. Now double that. Arrange the screens and stations back to back if possible. The advantage of linked play over two player (also known as co-op) mode is that the screen real estate is not split, and each screen is hidden from the other team!

You will also need two Xbox 360 titles that are compatible with "system link", one for each Xbox. The game needs to support this function and as with every Gamercize experience - the game is the most important factor, so spend some time to get this right and do a little research (for some ideas check out The Xbox uses the term "system link" for linked play, here's the symbol to look out for on the back of the box;

The last thing you'll need is a connection between the two Xbox'es. Some people call this a network cable, RJ45, Ethernet cable or patch cable. It's the type of cable that plugs into the back of your computer at work. There is a port for this on the back of the Xbox, which is normally used to plug into the network for online play, but using it to link two Xbox'es together doesn't need help from IT, doesn't need ports open on the firewall and presents no risk associated with "online chat" etc. Plug the same lead into both consoles. This is what the port looks like (highlighted in the red box below).

You are all set to go! Now you can play the same game on both stations, but linked! For the next part, playing the game, you will need the help of another person. Using the same title in each Xbox start stepping (or cycling if you are using the Gamercize Endurance Cycle) to activate the controllers. If you have not set up gamer profiles for you Xbox, do this now (yes, you have to keep stepping while you do this, it's exergaming!).

In the main game menu there will be an item similar to, if not actually reading as "linked play", sometimes this is a sub-menu under a main menu item of "multiplayer". With BOTH stations at this point in the game it will be possible to set up a game where both are playing against each other. 

There's often the chance to set up MORE than two stations in system link, this concept is readily seen in Major Leauge Gaming competitions, but we start to get a little more complicated as an eithernet hub is required. If you are interested in this option take a look at the Xbox knowledge base (and tell them Gamercize sent you!) 

A great title to try this with would be a soccer game. Both stations can have two players, creating a 2 on 2 scenario where tactics and co-operation are the ultimate winners of the competition. Games that also have "plays" that can be selected also work very well, with the added advantage that the opposing team can't see what play you have selected, just like real life!

If you do get stuck, go back to basics, make sure you have the connections right and get some teenagers to figure it out for you! Have fun, keep fit and enjoy! 

Wednesday, August 17

Gamercize in Hong Kong

Gamercize has Global Appeal

This week saw Gamercize featured in a TV show in Hong Kong as an intervention for a case of a sedentary lifestyle. The experience of HKU was explained as "wow factor". See the video below.

Videos and content to keep you up to date with Gamercize are available on our Facebook page here. Hope you Like it! 

Friday, August 12

Active Gaming for the Girls

London's Girls get Exergaming!

When you think about Active Gaming (AG) you may be thinking about images of Wii Bowling in retirement accommodations, or maybe mom’s keeping up with a Jillian Micheal's fitness regime after the kids have left for school. Another perception you may have comes from the “gaming” aspect of AG, which gives the impression that it’s more of a “boy’s” activity. In my experience with my company Gamercize, I’ve found this is far from the case. Active Gaming is much more than this, and has a much wider appeal, global appeal in fact.

My company, Gamercize, works with many different types of active gaming users, including teachers and schools, and providers products and services to help every person be more active by changing sedentary screen time into active screen time.

One service we provide is a PE Teacher familiarization and training day, to bring PE and technology together, almost like a hands-on “Show and Tell”. These days are a great way to give us a chance to test out the reactions to different types of games, reaching out to new demographics, and acquire useful feedback from students. One event that appeared to offer different challenges was for a girl’s school. We took along a good selection of games, finding the Xbox 360 offered more variety than the PlayStation 3, that has predominately shooting or racing games. The fun part about the equipment we used was any game would work, the active part of the active gaming being to keep stepping to play.

The XBox 360 video game console supports 4 players, although most readily available and popular games available for them support two players per console. There are options for up to 16 players “linked” and countless social interactions available with online play. The cost per station is far more attractive for multiple players per console and the offline play mode makes it much easier for the teacher to be in control of the session without outside influence.

In the UK the adherence for girls in PE is generally lower than for boys, especially at the age range we had at this school, the teens. Some problems have been recognised and addressed, for example not mandating gym skirts and allowing sweat pants or shorts not appropriate for PE wear, but this group remains the most difficult to keep engaged in class. It’s difficult for teachers to keep to curriculum and progress the children if they only sporadically attend class; I was given the job of working out how to engage them more.

The easiest games to engage boys with are sports games, would the same be true for girls? Sports worked well, but it was clear the girls wanted more variety, so to engage the whole class we had to do a lot more. After changing games on the consoles a couple of times we settled into three different genres on all three consoles. Sports was still popular, fantasy racing won out over pure racing simulation and the last genre turned out best; fantasy adventure. This kept the whole class active and happy, and pleasantly surprised as they were expecting traditional gym work for the lesson, not active gaming!

What surprised me was about half the 16 year old’s in class had arrived not intending to take part in the expected gym class, with parental notes and the old “forgotten kit” excuses. I did wonder how many would have skipped PE had they known Gamercize would be there? From the feedback we had, the girls who were not planning to engage in the class appeared more keen on the active gaming class, with many asking if the equipment would be available next week.

One group that knew active gaming was coming to school was the teachers. After running the classes it is normal to use the equipment as an “ice-breaker” with the teachers and to wind down before reflecting on the lessons learned from the day’s classes. It was long past time to pack up and get on the road, but the competitive nature of PE teachers was overriding the message from the school clock. Of course do-overs were the order of the day as we battled it out with Super Monkey Ball Grand Prix.

The only other time you will see engagement over such wide demographics is with traditional sedentary video games. Although technology is not normally associated with the Physical Education department, the active version of video games looks very promising for attendance rates. The teachers certainly saw the appeal, which is always more conducive in a hands-on environment when the reactions of students can be seen first hand and the equipment tried out by all ages.

This post originally appeared on PE Central's Active Gaming blog at -

Wednesday, August 10

The Power of Video Games (for Exergamers)

Exergaming is Driven by Gaming

This is a post that has been long overdue! As I write this I am sitting with my kids (see pic from six years ago!) who have got me crawling, not the walls, but the floor to plug in our original Xbox. They have loaded a save game from 2004 and are playing with an "ancient" Gamercize for Xbox!

Recently I saw a re-post of an article (that's not worthy of a link, sorry) claiming to be "everything you need to know about exergaming". Sadly this promising title leaves a lot to be desired and represents a terrible view of exergaming. Why is it so bad? It has a common attitude, even shared by a fair few exergame advocates - those that don't understand and have never experienced "The power of video games" - that exergaming is great (but we don't know why).

There is one aspect of exergaming that sets it aside from traditional physical activity and fitness options, and that is THE VIDEO GAME! The whole reason that (good) exergames are successful is that they tap into the engagement, sustainability and enjoyment of a past time that can keep anybody playing for hours! It's time to refocus on the basic principle that makes exergaming what it is - video games.

Video games now with the latest Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles have two basic modes. I will make no apology for going back to basics. The first mode is offline, or story mode, where a player progresses through a what is in effect an "interactive movie". The game play can last for between three and over a hundred hours (Blue Dragon on 306!). Game play is preserved by saving the game and typically as you progress through the story, your symbiotic in-game character improves and gains new skills.

It's this progression, the sense of achievement, options for personalisation that leads to an attachment with the video game. The basics of video gaming are very simple, but in reality it takes tens of millions of dollars to make a global best seller. There is all this going for a video game, but what happens when you reach "the last boss" / "final challenge" / "finale"? In short, the player becomes bored with the game, and it's appeal is lost. This is the reason why there are always new games out each month, it's a concept called "attach rate", meaning the number fo games per console per year.

One major misconception I see from a few exergame advocates and a lot of main steam media is to take an exergame in isolation. Attach rate statistics show the appeal of a game can last a couple of months at best. Is that enough time to change a lifestyle with exergaming? Maybe not, so sustainability (changing the game) needs to be a huge consideration when using exergaming as an intervention. Give it six months and that's where you'll see some amazing health benefits that traditional activity would be hard to match, especially when considering seasonal changes for outdoor exercise.

Video gaming has progressed beyond the solitary play stereotype into a whole new world, and the second major mode of games today - the online mode. The PlayStation Network (when it's up) and Xbox Live provide a transport mechanism for the most engaging for of gaming. While solo play may engage players for a couple of months, online play has the ability to engage players for 12 months or more.

Halo and Call of Duty (both compatible with Gamercize online or offline) are classic examples of video games that have relativity short story modes, but almost unlimited appeal when played online. The social aspects of online play are compelling for the human species. There is of course progression, but this is largely cosmetic, in terms of new kit, and almost never functional. Everyone has the same chance to achieve, depending on skill.

There's the catch for online gaming. It's one thing to beat a pre-programmed story, but another thing to compete and socialize with people from all over the world - and win! Getting to this level takes time and lots of practice (all of which is active time with Gamercize) but is more rewarding than, say, soccer practice compared with an actual match.

The true benefit of exergaming is the video game. If you've never experienced the "3 yard stare", it's unlikely you'll be able to fully appreciate this and the power of exergames. My advice would be to get online and get gaming with a genre that appeals to you (and don't forget to add Gamercize to the mix and keep healthy too!).