The Free Lance-Star
December 16, 2008
By Jim Hall
Local schools and fitness clubs have learned that they can get kids moving and combat childhood obesity by combining vigorous exercise with a generous helping of gaming technology.
Attach a video game to an exercise bicycle, for example, and kids will pedal in order to play.
Install an arcade version of Dance Dance Revolution, or DDR, and kids will tap their toes.
As Garrett Heflin, 7, said this week as he worked out at the Rappahannock Area YMCA in Stafford County: "You have exercise and you learn to dance."
The YMCA and other local gyms, such as American Family Fitness in Spotsylvania County, have discovered "exergames," the interactive fitness machines for kids.
In Stafford County, more than a dozen of its schools have joined the movement with everything from the popular DDR dance game to Wii Fit programs and exercise videos by Billy Blanks and Christy Lane.
"If it's got a technology twist to it, if it's got a video gaming kind of feel to it, the kids like it," said Michael Justice, coordinator of health, physical education and driver education for Stafford schools.
The fitness clubs hope to please parents by offering something productive for "tweeners," the children who are too old for day care but not old enough for full floor privileges.