Advanced Academic Services is part of the Austin Independent School District. This blog provides information, activities, and events regarding advanced academics and high ability children and teens. Smart without compromise. Potential without limits.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Get Fit with “Exergaming”

Gifted children often experience stress more often and for a longer time than other children because of their intensity and heightened sensitivity to their immediate environment as well as global issues. With increased stress levels come the vulnerability to succumb to illness, depression, and unhealthy sleeping and eating patterns. Unfortunately many of our children are not taking advantages of the benefits ofexercising. Frequent exercise can counteract all of these potential consequences.

According to Dr. Fred Gage of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, “Everybody knows that exercise is good for your heart, but in recent years we've gathered compelling evidence that exercise is also good for your brain.” Exercise can improve brain health, self-image and self-esteem, as well as mood, memory, and attention.

Yet, how do we get our children to start moving? The Mayo Clinic reported kids spend an average of eight hours a day in front of the TV either watching shows or playing video games. A small study of 25 children showed that any addition to a game that involved significant movement, like adding a treadmill or a dance pad, kicked up the amount of energy they burned by several times.

The best way to motivate someone to exercise is have them doing it and to not know it. That it, the activity they are engaged in is not perceived as exercise, but as entertainment. “Exergaming” is a whole new way to reverse the sedentary behavior encouraged by extensive use of passive engagement with technology. Arcade-style dance pads like Dance Dance Revolution, gaming systems like the Nintendo Wii, and digital pets that require movement to keep the pet healthy like Fizzees are just a sampling of the products that include the body as part of the interactive game.

Fact: gifted children have higher intellectual abilities than other children. However, that does not mean they only need to work their mental muscles; they also need to work out. If that means integrating technology to establish and maintain an exercise routine, then it’s may not be such a bad idea.