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U of S researchers making a game out of fitness
Published Wednesday, March 30, 2011 1:27PM CST
A new wave of video games that encourage physical fitness could be on the horizon.
A group of researchers at the University of Saskatchewan is designing and testing new games that promote health and wellness.
Andre Doucette, a PHD student in the computer sciences department at the U of S, is helping to test a new video game created by a fellow student called Grab Apple.
By using his body to run, leap, and twist, Doucette can play the game, attempting to pick apples off of the computerized tree.
"You can really do different levels of intensity depending how interested you are in the game. I like the challenge so I really get into it," said Doucette.
Like many systems on the market, Grab Apple is controlled through a player's movements. As the levels increase, so does a person's heart rate and activity level.
Regan Mandryk, an assistant professor in the computer sciences department, says that unlike what's already out there, this game is designed to be played in short spurts.
"So you play for five to ten minutes when you get the opportunity and the idea is if you play three times per day then you're getting the 30 minutes of activity a day," said Mandryk.
In addition to Grab Apple, researchers are also working on games that focus on resistance training by having the player adjust their breathing and flex their muscles to control the game.
Researchers are also creating games that utilize smart phone technology to get people, especially children and their families, up and moving.
"The idea behind that one is children of active parents are six times more likely to be active themselves so if we can get families to be active together using a smart phone to encourage them to go for a walk and play a game then that will help the whole family get some exercise," said Mandryk.
Gaming systems like the Xbox Kinect, the PlayStation Move, or the Wii, have started to make fitness games fun for the whole family. Mandryk says the goal of these games isn't to replace traditional exercise or skip the gym, but rather to encourage people to add a little activity into their everyday -- in a way that is fun and enjoyable.
"What we're looking to do is get those people who are not exercising to start exercising."