Monday, January 30, 2012

Virtual Bike Exergaming

Taking a little tour of the exergame lab in Park Center this morning sparked my interest to read the article posted by Professor Yang about the “virtual” bike systems. The article was entitled “On Your “Virtual” Bike! Exercise and Exergames Bring Benefits” and came from the Alzheimer’s Research Forum. One component of the article that immediately grabbed my attention was the fact that while a person is using one of these virtual bikes, they are not only getting physical exercise but also working the brain. Thinking about the game while exercising increases cognitive functioning and often draws attention away from the actual physical movements. This is a great break through for all age groups. If kids are going to play video games for fun, why not make them exercise while riding the bike at the same time? The elderly population does not get nearly enough exercise. Because riding the bike is low impact, it is the perfect way for older adults to exercise and they will stay motivated to want to do the physical activity because a game is incorporated. It is of low risk and those who are older do not need to worry about over-doing it because they can pedal at their own pace.  I found the statement “In addition, the benefit of the simultaneous physical and mental exercise was greater than the expected additive effects of the two separately” in the article to be especially interesting. Incorporating cognitive and mental aspects into physical education and physical activity will definitely help prove the importance of physical education class. Although these types of systems may be expensive I definitely will look into investing into using technology in my classroom when I get a job as a physical education teacher.

I have never really been a fan of riding the bike for exercise and would much rather run on the treadmill or use the elliptical. But back in the fall I pulled a muscle in my hip/groin area and it was very painful to run for about a month. Thus I found that biking was a way I could still exercise. I began using the bikes at Tomik Gym that had the video game systems incorporated and ended up finding this activity to actually be quite enjoyable. I found myself riding the bike for longer and longer because I wanted to beat a level on the Dragon Hunters game I loved. It was really awesome to be exercising and not really thinking about it because I was more focused on the game. Now when I get bored of just running day after day I switch it up and ride the bike so that I can play the video games and get a break from mentally pushing myself to keep running.

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