Ninety percent of the world is dead and the few remaining local survivors are holed up in a small building in the middle of town, fighting off a horde of zombies. Supplies are dwindling, and the only chance of survival falls on you, your courage and your fast feet. What do you do? With the upcoming, video game, Zombies, Run!, you do exactly that. Run for your life and the life of your loved ones. Zombies, Run! is an upcoming iPhone and droid app that integrates the fun of being torn to shreds by the evil undead with exercise. Isn’t running more fun when someone is chasing you?
Zombies, run! is a prime example of virtual-based reality using the fantasy of video games to make the most mundane exercise routines a tad more exciting. Exercise-based games have become quite popular with the introduction of Nintendo’s Wii and the development of the motion controller. This type of exercise game is quite popular with busy professionals, couch-potato teenagers and everyone in between. For the elderly, the Wii has become a staple in many retirement and convalescent homes. Once they are taught how to play, often by helpful volunteer teenagers, the Wii becomes an incredible tool that allows older men and women, who may have a limited range of motion, get some exercise and actually have fun while they do it.
Obesity levels are exceptionally high, and any increase in exercise would be a great benefit to our overall health, no matter if it is due to a silly game or not. However, a recent article, Exergaming and Older Adult Cognition: A Cluster Randomized Clinical Trial, found that exercised-based games have another added benefit: reduced dementia. Exercise games allow the participant to be mentally invested in their exercise. Researchers found that while there was no difference in exercise time or quality between the two groups, participants that used specially-made ‘cyber’ bikes, which brought them to a virtual world of bike races, scenic trips and silly games, enjoyed the exercise more and experienced an increase in cognitive ability.
A prime example of ‘use it or lose it,’ this type of exercise-based game will likely be important for younger people as well. Plenty of research has illustrated that if you keep your mind active throughout your life, the onset of dementia can be delayed.
The introduction of game-based exercise routines is also a great benefit for people that may not enjoy exercise or get bored very fast, causing their mind to drift from the exercising at hand. I don’t know about the rest of you, but when my mind drifts, I begin to think of more important things I need to be doing. Once this happens, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a steady exercise pace. A fun game that keeps my mind occupied would definitely provide a supportive boost to my self-discipline, allowing me to maintain a longer interest in exercise and, ultimately, improve my health.
Zombies and video games may not be every one’s cup of tea, but with the introduction of these games and other similar devices, our exercise routine is becoming increasingly integrated into technology. Is all this technology necessary? Perhaps not, but it makes working out a lot more fun.