Video games aren't just for couch potatoes anymore. Since the launch of Wii Fit, video game designers have developed a wide range of games that help players lose weight using any gaming system. Dance games are particularly popular and effective. In fact, researchers have cleared some games as possible exercise therapy alternatives for those with both Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. Most dance game players burn somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 to 600 calories per hour while dancing, depending on intensity, weight, and current fitness level. Since weight loss really does boil down to calories in versus calories out, playing a dance game daily while maintaining a healthy diet can help you burn a pound or more every week.
1. Dance Dance Revolution
Dance Dance Revolution, one of the first dancing video games to hit the market, has been an arcade sensation for years. Because of recent gaming console advances, you can now play DDR at home with a floor pad as your controller. The American Council on Exercise determined that the average dancer burns almost six calories per minute when playing on light mode, almost seven when playing on standard, and just over eight when playing on difficult. Respectively, that’s equivalent to the calorie burn from a treadmill walk, a bike ride at 14 miles per hour, and a high-impact aerobics class.
2. Zumba Fitness
The Zumba Fitness video game series for Wii, Kinect for Xbox 360 and PlayStation can be a great stand-in for someone who enjoys Zumba classes but can’t attend them regularly. Beto, Gina, and Tanya, the game's featured Zumba instructors, guide as many as four players at a time through Zumba moves, some of which you’ll only see in the game.
3. Dance Central
Dance Central is an Xbox Kinect-based dance game that has both a party game mode and a workout mode. While the party game mode burns calories in addition to the fun of the game in general, the workout mode is focused entirely on the calorie burn. Remember to stay hydrated while playing. This game in particular is geared toward those who want to learn how to dance in real life as well -- “Break It Down” mode helps players learn dance moves step by step.
4. Just Dance
Just Dance is designed for the Nintendo Wii platform. Though each player needs to be holding a Wii remote, as many as eight people can play at a time. Like Dance Central, the game has a workout mode in addition to the party mode, but it distinguishes itself from the competition with music from a variety of artists, like the Rolling Stones and Elvis.
- National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability: Perceptions of a Videogame-Based Dance Exercise Program Among Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease
- Clinical Rehabilitation: Video Game Play (Dance Dance Revolution) as a Potential Exercise Therapy in Huntington's Disease
- American Council on Exercise: Can a Video Game Make Your Kids More Fit? Exclusive ACE Research Proves Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) Can Be a Tremendous Workout
- Los Angeles Times: Dance Fitness Video Games Boogie Their Way to Success
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