Now is the Time to Gamercise with Your Family!

Written by Lori Cunningham, Editor, WellConnectedMom.com
May 4, 2020
Families can use video games to get exercise.
Families can use video games to get exercise.

It’s been over a month for some states living under “stay-at-home” orders. Families are adjusting to life at home and the stresses of living in a world that changes with each day. With national and local parks being closed down, options for exercise continue to dwindle.

Exercise is essential for stress reduction, improving mental health, helping to keep quarantined weight off, and improving sleep.

Since exercise is no longer a part of your child’s school curriculum and gyms are closed down, there’s another option already available in your home. It will not only motivate you to keep up your exercise regimen, but also encourage the whole family to join in with you.

Families are finding “gamercising” to be a fun solution to exercise together, all under the guise of playing video games. Gamercising makes exercising more fun and interactive. During the heat of the challenge, you often forget that you’re running, jumping, and golfing in your own family room.

There are a number of different gamercising video games that have come out through the years. Here are some different ideas to help your family get started gamercising as a family.

Dance, Dance, Dance

The most popular dance video game of all-time is Ubisoft’s Just Dance franchise (Everyone to Everyone 10+). First debuting in 2009, Ubisoft has put out a new version every year.

Dance games like Just Dance, Dance Central (Teen 13+), Dance Dance Revolution (Everyone to Everyone 10+), and others help gamers learn new moves to favorite songs by copying the moves of an on-screen dancer in their choreographed routine. Sometimes the dancer(s) look normal, but most of the time they are wearing very imaginative and colorful outfits and sometimes they look like fun animals!

Best yet, using the PlayStation 4 camera/Move, Xbox’s Kinect, or the Wii/Wii U/Nintendo Switch, multiple family members can play at one time, with points being racked up individually for score. Yes, in any good video game there’s always got to be a sense of competition!

Families can choose individual songs, a song set, or even an exercise set to keep players moving. Better have a fan close by, players will get hot.

New dancing games release every year.

Dance games can keep you active!

The filmed video takes at the end of the games is so fun to watch and laugh at together, enhancing family gamercising moments.

One other added benefit of these dance games is the opportunity to share each other’s music. Dance games often use multi-generational songs in each year’s release. Dancing them together gives parents and kids a chance to appreciate each other’s musical tastes.

Sports, Anyone?

There is no shortage of sports games available for gamercising. Baseball, football, Olympic games, golf, tennis, table tennis, skiing, skateboarding, rafting, carting…you name it, it’s available. Oh yeah, there’s even darts!

Games like Sports Party (Everyone), Mario Party (Everyone), Sports Champions (Everyone 10+), Wii Sports Club (Everyone 10+), Kinect Sports (Everyone to Everyone 10+), Wii Play (Everyone to Everyone 10+), Steep (Teen 13+), Wipeout (Everyone 10 +) and even Carnival Games (Everyone to Everyone 10+) are all fun games involving a little family fun competition. Sports games are fun for younger kids too, and they will love the cause-and-effect these video games offer.

This is the perfect time to introduce your kids to new sports.

Sports video games offer bursts of exercise, certainly enough to get your heart rate up, dependent upon the game you play. Best yet, they will get everyone off the couch and swing into action.

A Harvard study found that kids who played sports games were more likely to play sports in real life.

This is the perfect time to introduce your kids to new sports, teaching them how to play, what the rules are, and how to improve. They will understand the sport and basic skills now so when they go out and play once school starts up again, they will have more confidence.

One, Two, Three

If you’re looking for a more traditional way to exercise, there are plenty of video games available to help you motivate and train you and your family.

Ninja Warrior (Everyone), Wii Fit U (Everyone), Zumba Fitness (Everyone to Everyone 10+), Your Shape: Fitness Evolved (Everyone to Everyone 10+), Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout (Everyone), EA Sports Active (Everyone), Fitness Boxing (Teen 13+), are just a sampling of video games, new and older, available for fitness training.

The beauty of the gaming console camera systems is that they can see if your positions are correct when conducting certain exercises and poses. It’s like having a personal trainer in your living room.

There are plenty of gamercise games available for all gaming consoles

Although these games are less game-like and more exercise-like, they do keep your stats for you and some even help you keep on schedule. They motivate you by progressing to further levels while tracking your times.

Fitness games like these are more for individuals in families. They are perfect for family members who used to work out in gyms as well as for teens and college student-athletes. Keeping up with routines in these video games will help family members to maintain their stamina until they can return to their previous normal routines.

There are plenty of gamercise games available – from yesteryear to today – for all gaming consoles. You probably already have some in your video game library. To ensure games are  fit for your whole family, be sure to check out esrb.org for age-appropriateness first.

Lori Cunningham _ Just DanceLori Cunningham is an ESRB Parent Ambassador and lifetime lover of video games. From her endless quests to find the golden egg in Atari’s Adventure to building dreamscapes in Minecraft with her son, Lori shares her video game and technology finds with her readers at Well Connected Mom as its Editor and Founder. Lori also created and runs a maker space for students at a local K-8 school. She can be found on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Facebook.