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YMCA Using Videogames to Encourage Exercise

| 21 Aug 2007 16:08
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The YMCA in London, Ontario, will soon unveil an "exergaming zone," using videogames to make it even more fun to stay at the Y.

Continuing the new trend of using videogames to promote other activities, the London YMCA has filled the room with gaming systems and flat-screen televisions. Other YMCA organizations in Ontario have used videogames as part of their programs in the past, but London's will be the largest in Canada. Shaun Elliot, Chief Executive at the YMCA, said, "We're letting kids be kids and giving them an opportunity to have fun while they exercise."

Central to the setup is the Cybex Trazer, described as "an interactive virtual world where reaction time, acceleration, speed, power and balance drive on-screen activities." The device, which sits on the floor, uses an infrared beam to track movement and relay data to the "simulator core," while the games can be modified depending on the user's age and abilities. The Cateye GameBike is also featured: Similar in design to a standard exercise bike, the GameBike connects to a PlayStation 2 or "other" consoles and allows riders to control steering, speed and other functions entirely with their body movement. Along with the ATV and snowboard racing games, kids will be able to bring in their own games to play with the bikes.

The exergaming zone is aimed at kids aged 8 to 16. According to a House of Commons health committee report released earlier this year, 26 percent of Canadians aged 2 to 17 are either overweight or obese. While a few parents have expressed reservations about the use of videogames at the Y, the kids are enthusiastic, according to Elliot. "They all wanted to just have fun and not be restricted by rules or have adults coming down on them," he said.

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