Are Video Games the New Wave of Fitness?

| by Dr Gwenn
Universal plugs are the best little gizmo ever - they allow the right kind of energy to flow in your electronic devices any where you are in the world. Of course, sometimes that energy flows the wrong way or surges and our devices either short out or misfunction.

Our bodies work the same way with the energy we try to create to keep our bodies healthy and strong. Two stories in Sports Illustrated today reminded me about the universal nature of energy creation and use in sports and how we naturally seek out that cool buzz that comes with pushing our bodies in just the right way, and how easy it is for some people to try and cheat that buzz and push it in directions it is just not meant to go, to the detriment of themselves, their teams and the entire sports industry.

David Ortiz, "Big Papi", came out with a forceful statement advocating pulling the plug on athletes caught using steroids by hitting them where it hurts the most: game play. In response to A-Rod's steroid admission, Big Papi told SI that he feels mandatory drug testing and season-long bans are the only way to keep the game clean.

Big Papi's plan makes good sense and for those seeking to push the limits of their body's energy abilities unfairly. However, just banning games isn't going far enough. These players also need to be hit in the wallet with fines, salary docks for the season they are banned and a cap on the salary for the season they return. Players who resort to drugs should not be rewarded by being handed uber high salaries without proving to their team and fans they deserve it and they only way to do that is to play drug free and still perform.

In contrast, San Diego Padres new closer Keith Bell found a way to plug into exercise by literally turning on and using his Wii Fit and lost 25 lbs as a result. Bell told SI he began playing Wii Fit with his kids and was served a major wake up call by the game's computer:

"It said I was obese," Bell said. "If you're obese, it makes (your character on screen) obese. I was disappointed that I was that big. I literally took the game to heart. I did the work but I kind of credit the Wii Fit."

Bell isn't alone. Newsweek's Anne Underwood noted that Wii Fit offers players some interesting perks that have been found to help others shed pounds in other gaming systems. In her words:

"At their best, gadgets like Wii Fit can help people get in shape by combining exercise with the addictiveness of videogames...Studies have shown that earlier games like Dance Dance Revolution helped people lose weight by making them want to come back for certainly tries to ensnare your competitive spirit, allowing you to monitor your progress and play against family members. And there is the ever-present challenge of meeting your weight-loss goals, which the scale-based system excels in tracking."

Underwood further notes:

" could just be the gateway exercise program that a lot of us need to get up and get moving."

By the way, we have a Wii Fit at home and I can't remember the last time a "game" was used so much by the entire family - grown ups included!

So, just like wall energy, sports energy can be good or bad - just depends on how you plug yourself into the system. Like all electricity-based system, the sports world needs more ways to unplug the energy drains and support the new users. These headlines offer hope that we may be on a path to a healthier, and cleaner, sports world...and society.