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Exer-gaming gets the nod from Canadian health meet

By Frank Caron Published: November 04, 2008 – 10:09AM CT

Though there are those who would dispute the link between noteworthy weight-loss and the various exer-gaming products offered by games like Wii Sports and Wii Fit when played in an active manner, members of a Canadian university think tank on health has come out in favor of the titles and their ability to encourage overweight children to be more active.

Laurette Dube, head of the 2008 McGill Health Challenge Think Tank put on by the University of McGill in Montreal, Canada (which is the foremost medical school in the country), expressed her views to attendees that exer-gaming could be a valuable motivation tool, contrary to what other groups have said. Linda Carson, professor of physical education at West Virginia University, recently completed a study on exer-gaming and its effect on children using Wii Sports and presented alongside Laurette at the gathering.

“There are some folks who feel that by promoting physical activity through the use of video games, children are being socially isolated or not be encouraged to go outside and play,” said Carson to attendees. “I think exer-gaming needs to be recognized as an exciting alternative to traditional physical education. There’s a lot of value to children having physical activity options in their home and even at school.”

Regardless of what the science says, I’ve always been of the mind that anything that gets kids off the couch and up moving is better than sitting lazily on the couch and just thumbing a controller. I’ll be the first to admit that getting some rounds of Wii Tennis in with my cousins definitely led to more than a few trips to the tennis courts that would have never otherwise happened. Making the transition to real sports may require more than just plopping a Wii in the household, but that’s the parents’ job: the Wii is just an excellent segue from inactivity to action.

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