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Pilates, Zumba, yoga and more: Introduce youth to alternate forms of physical activity through exergames

Non-traditional exercises such as Zumba, Pilates and even yoga are finding their way into your child’s physical education classroom. These exercises are a great way to introduce young audiences to new activity. With exergames dedicated to these exercises, physical education teachers who may be less comfortable leading these types of exercises on their own can use these games as a model to expose youth to alternative physical activities.

 

Zumba offers Latin dance-inspired movement to upbeat music that promises to elevate heart rates in a fun, engaging way and offers huge potential for youth to have fun while getting exercise.

 

Pilates and yoga include stretching, balancing and toning exercises with a focus on lengthening and contracting muscles. These types of exercise can help increase flexibility, balance, and bone strength and encourage life long fitness while preventing injury.

 

Raquel Sloan, a K–5 PE teacher at J. Paul Taylor Academy in Las Cruces, NM recognized the popularity of Zumba and wanted to bring some of the Zumba craze to her students. However, after researching options, she realized Zumba curriculum certifications or bringing in instructors was just too expensive. Instead, she decided to use Zumba Fitness for the Wii console and has had great success using this game with her students.

 

Elizabeth Graham, director of After School Adventures, a K–5 program in Lovington, NM, also wanted to encourage activity in her program, while giving youth different options including exergaming. Graham, a personal trainer, along with staff and a local volunteer who is also a personal trainer, use a different exergame with the program youth every Thursday. The variety in exergames allows participants to try out new exercises including yoga, martial arts, boxing, Zumba, hulahoop and dance. Throughout the rest of the week, youth can choose from any of the active games that have been introduced, individually or together, in addition to other learning and play activities available.

 

Both Graham and Sloan agree that youth need variety and it’s important to show them several fun fitness options. Most importantly, exergames can be a cost-effective avenue to achieve this.

 

Make it work

– Read game reviews. Find what exergames are popular and read reviews from others. Great sites to visit include exergamesunlocked.com or amazon.com.

 

– Don’t be afraid to experiment. Just because kids don’t usually do yoga at home

doesn’t mean that they won’t have fun with it or take away a valuable lesson from the experience.

 

– Be enthusiastic and exercise with the kids. It’s important to model healthy behaviors for youth, and the more engaged you are the more you encourage your students/participants. If they see you just sitting down, they won’t be as excited about the activity. Plus, it’s a good opportunity for you to bond with them.

 

– Learn along with them. It’s important that your participants see you learning along with them. It’s ok for them to see you mess up, and verbalize to them that you don’t have the dance pose yet, but you’ll get it next time. Learning alongside them helps them relax and have fun, and it’s more effective than just lecturing.

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Funding Information

© 2013. NMSU Board of Regents. All rights reserved. This project was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture through the National Research Initiative (Grant #2008-55215-18837).

About Us

The Exergames Unlocked project includes a multi-state team of accomplished media education researchers, exercise physiologists, medical professionals and doctoral students. Contributing members are researchers in their fields and have helped launch the use of exergames as tools to combat obesity in their communities and beyond. New Mexico State University researchers and their partners have been funded to research the impact of exergames, develop specific recommendations for exergame use, and implement exergaming programs. As part of that project, this website provides access to resources based on research, sample projects, and input from the exergaming community. For more information, contact the project director: Dr. Barbara Chamberlin, Professor, New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service
575-646-2848
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Why Exergames Unlocked?

Why Exergames Unlocked? Exergames are videogames that encourage physical activity. Here, you’ll find the best and most effective exergames, as well as strategies and recommendations on using them with different audiences and in different locations.