The Power of Virtual Exercise

It is not a Wii
It is not a Wii

As we speak, Bellevue College is forming an open alliance with the brand new Microsoft store that opened up next to the Apple store at Bellevue Square. Microsoft plans to go head to head with Apple by targeting the exact same demographic as Apple: Us, BC students.

And why not? We are college students in need of computers and electronics. Plus the Apple store does not carry such items like the iBox 180 or even competent office programs. One of the methods Microsoft is opening itself up to BC students is the usage of its brand new, funky fresh, spectacularly innovative, not-a-Nintendo-Wii-bite-off, motion sensing Kinect system. Unlike the Nintendo Wii which was made popular by its sports package, the Kinect is starting its career off with a sports package. You can now dance, workout, and improve hand-eye coordination while being healthy and fit. But is working out Kinect style more effective than going outdoors?

Let’s start with the painfully obvious. A Kinect workout was not meant to replace jogging, weight lifting, or sports. It was made to entertain five year olds by having them wave their hands around and working off excess energy. The most rigorous game the Kinect has is their rip-off of Dance Dance Revolution but players are certainly not performing air flares or spinaroonies. If anything, it is just “Pop Dancing for Dummies.”

Why do schools have big track fields? Can the schools not make the track team run through the vacant hallways after school is out? The answer is because doing cardio outdoors is more beneficial than doing it indoors. Granted that increases in pollution in the air made outside air a bit more cancerous but studies show that breathing in fresh, circulating air is better for the body. It might be why those overweight treadmill walkers stay fat. The Kinect is not exactly something you can take out and enjoy in the sun. Granted that it is possible to lug an entire TV outside and hook it up to extender cables, but seriously?

The Kinect, however, is a better alternative to such games as Left 4 Dead or Halo. Even if the Kinect is a half-assed workout, that is still better than nothing. Studies show that you actually burn less calories sitting around, playing videogames, than you do when you sleep. The Kinect keeps you moving and active so that your body burns calories at a decent rate if nothing else.

At least Microsoft did not try to go down the path Nintendo did and present an entire Fit franchise. Grabbing cylindrical objects and swinging it around should not count as exercising, should it? Although the Wii Fit package did meet with some deal of success, it was designated for children who would be amused with the funny colors. The Kinect is a long ways from replacing traditional exercise. Can anyone imagine being a Kinect athlete anywhere as glorious as being a real athlete?

According to studies done by numerous health researchers, it is commonly agreed that the average person should have between 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day at least 5 days a week; preferably a good balance of strength and cardio training. Kinect does not really cover the area of strength training; not unless Microsoft plans on selling xBox brand dumbbells with new consoles.