Slimming games have risen in popularity in recent years, especially among Hong Kong people who are trying to strike a balance between work and personal lives. Imagine enjoying time with your family while doing full-body exercise, sounds great, doesn’t it?
Over the past decade or so, there were sports or exercise-related video games claiming to offer slimming effect. But is that really the case? From the players’ point of view, the variety of slimming games in the early years was limited. The most common ones were tennis, ping pong, bowling, dancing and running where hand-held gamepads were used to send motion signals to the sensors, and most movements were far from accurate.
Nowadays, video game types are more diversified. Slimming games have also evolved a lot and require finer and more accurate movements, such as jumping, squatting, lifting legs or raising arms. Some games even offer options for body fitness including aerobic exercises, bodyweight training and yoga that involve most muscles in our body, from deltoids to latissimus dorsi and quadriceps. Players would feel their body heating up or even starting to sweat after about 20 minutes of gaming. Some games even measure calories burnt and heart rate to help players review their training results.
But the question remains: Can you really slim down by playing video games?
Well, if you do the above-mentioned aerobic exercises and muscle training 3 to 5 times a week, you can get fat-burning results, but only partially. This is because real exercises such as road running and gym workout cannot be replaced by exercises done in front of the tv.
Road running, for instance, requires more energy and lower-body stamina as we have to adapt to the temperature, humidity and friction of the running surface in each route. We cannot attain this level of exercise by simply running on the spot at home. The shortcoming is more obvious when it comes to gym room exercises. By simulating muscle training using only the gamepad without applying any weight, how effective would you expect the results to be?
Having said that slimming games cannot totally replace real exercises, they still serve as a big push to arouse people’s interest in exercising, especially those who seldom do aerobic exercise or weight training. When their body and mind are well prepared through games, ‘real’ exercises of moderate-intensity can step in to aim for slimming or fitness goals.
Sonia Tsang – Senior Manager, Organization and People Development Division of a listed company; Founder and Executive Director of F8 Funding Limited