iTECH Fitness Joins with U. of South Florida to Promote 'Exergaming' Interactive Fitness Among Kids
(02/06/07) More than fun and games, the University of South Florida launched the XRKade Research Lab whose mission will be to assist children in becoming physically active and increase fitness levels through use of technology-based interactive game activities, coined 'exergaming'. Lab products include X-Board, Dance Dance Revolution, Game Bikes, 3-Kick, Trazer, iJoy, Core Trainer and Korebalance. Exergaming may go a long way toward stemming the growing childhood obesity problem.
About 100 Y operators, school district personnel, manufacturers and other interested parties attended an open house on Jan. 26, 2006 at the XRKade Research Lab to see the equipment in action.
February 6, 2007 Tampa, FL --
With all the talk about addressing the growing sedentary behavior among U.S. youths, the School of Physical Education, Wellness and Sports Studies at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa is actually doing something about it.
Last month they launched the first university interactive fitness research lab for youth, dubbed the XRKade Research Lab. Its focus is on exercise equipment that truly engages youths as video programs do, but only now they sweat.
to be physically active, it's a powerful statement. We want to prove that exercise can be fun."
Lisa Witherspoon, doctoral candidate, University of South Florida
"We had kids on equipment and as soon as people saw how much fun kids were having and how much they were sweating-it was the visual that you can't capture with words," says Lisa Witherspoon, doctoral student at USF. Witherspoon heads the lab, which was created because of her interest in this subject for her doctoral program. She plans to use the research to create curriculum for physical education programs using interactive fitness programming.
The XRKade lab was created through donations from iTECH Fitness and the company's corporate partners. Some of the equipment featured in the lab are:
X-Board is a boarding simulator that allows kids to experience the thrill of snowboarding down a mountain or pulling the best skateboarding tricks.
Cateye Game Bike
Cateye Game Bike is a plug and play video game controller which transforms stationary biking into an interactive experience. Kids control movements on the screen with their body movements. They control steering, speed,
turns, and strategy .
Trazer is a simulator that launches kids into an interactive virtual world where reaction time, acceleration,
speed, power and balance drive onscreen activities.
iJoy is a motorized board balance trainer. Kids press a button on the infrared wireless remote control and experience the simulated motion of snowboarding or skateboarding.
3-Kick is an area with foam punching stands as with kickboxing, kids strike certain pads as lights and tones are randomly activated within them.
Hoggan Sprint Airbounder
Airbounder combines the exercise principles of rebounding,
jumping, and plyometric training. It has a large jumping
platform, and accessible handlebars for balance
and adjustable resistance.
Dance Dance Revolution
With Dance Dance Revolution, kids move their feet to a set
pattern, stepping in time to the general
rhythm or beat of a song. They stomp, slide,
spin, and dance on a special platform.
The Arrival of Exergaming
The lab will investigate the growing movement related to assisting children in becoming physically active and increasing fitness levels through use of technology-based interactive game activities.
This movement is being called interactive fitness or Exergaming and is increasingly being used by public school systems, YMCAs, recreational centers and private fitness clubs to help children of all ages increase physical activity levels and maintain a healthy weight, says Mike Hansen, CEO and president of iTECH Fitness.
Some of the studies planned involve other departments at USF including the departments of psychology, physiology, behavioral science and special education.
"There's no concrete research being done on interactive fitness as a whole," Witherspoon says. "You can find some on individual pieces of equipment but not as a concept as a whole."
Beyond physiological studies, Witherspoon plans studies related to equipment with screens vs. non-screens, skill development and the motivational factor of interactive fitness.
The subjects for the studies come from the 5th grade classes at 3 elementary schools on the USF campus. Each class spends one PE session each week at the lab. In the future, Witherspoon may expand the research beyond fifth graders and beyond the three schools on campus, she says. She already has a waiting list of children whose parents who have seen media coverage about the facility and want their children involved.
In the future, Witherspoon may expand her research to include adults and senior citizens, she says, adding that much of the equipment can help with balance and core.
"If we can publish something that says interactive fitness and exergaming does encourage the population to be physically active, it's a powerful statement," Witherspoon says. "We want to prove that exercise can be fun."
The Ys lead the Way
Some fitness groups already are seeing the benefits of the interactive equipment even before studies have been completed.
"The Ys are already going crazy over this," Witherspoon says. "I won't be surprised if the health clubs won't start picking up on this. Retention is their problem. If you can improve retention, that's what those clubs want. If it's proven that these programs improve retention, it would be a no brainer [to install interactive fitness equipment]."
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Source: Pam Kufahl, Fitness Business Pro