Potential Exists for Core Strengthening

Article excerpt

Offering a mix of physical activity and yoga, the latest innovation in video games as fitness-focused offerings has hit the U.S. In fact, the Wii Fit already is changing the way some people exercise, and other fitness-oriented game systems are on the way to the market. According to the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), Dallas, Tex., the activities enabled by these new gaming systems are geared toward strength training, balance, and aerobics, and they show potential for rehabilitation and increased motivation to exercise.

"It is always better to participate in physical activity and fitness activities to build bone and muscle," says Sue Stanley-Green, professor of athletic training, Florida Southern College, Lakeland. "Video games can have a role in at least getting you up and moving. We hope that those who begin with a little activity--using gaming systems that require bodily movement and effort--will start to feel better and want to exercise more in the real world, too."

"Core strength" is a fitness term that refers to abdominal and back muscles and their ability to support the spine and keep the body stable and balanced; it also is one of the main areas of focus for fitness gaming. Weak core muscles contribute to a variety of injuries among people of all ages--from professional athletes, to couch-potato kids, to sedentary adults, to workers who perform manual labor.

NATA offers the following tips to ensure optimal results and safe use when playing fitness-centered video games for core strengthening, conditioning, and general health, as well as for rehabilitation after injury. In all cases, follow manufacturer's instructions for proper form and use:

Core strengthening. Fitness video games can have great core strengthening potential, which is one of the main objectives for upper- and lower-body rehabilitation programs, especially for posture problems and back pain. …

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