If you could tune in for a moment to a guided tour stopping at The Beat Goes On exhibit at the Halle Heart Children’s Museum, odds are you would hear the Heart Guide talking about one important aspect of heart health: keeping active. Each group of schoolchildren that gathers in this exhibit learns about how getting enough physical activity every day can help maintain healthy weight, boost mood, improve immunity, and—most relevant to the museum’s mission—prevent heart disease. For a generation that increasingly seems to spend more time in front of screens and less time engaged in active play, this is critical education.
One of the American Heart Association’s Guiding Values is “meeting people where they are.” In the case of physical activity for kids, this can sometimes mean meeting them on the playground and meeting them on a screen. To this end, the Beat Goes On exhibit features three XBox Kinect consoles–(who knew you’d get to play video games at a museum?)—where kids get to play a heart-pumping round of Fruit Ninja.
The research around exercise-based video games is encouraging! A 2016 study published in Global Pediatric Health showed that children who participated regularly in video games that required physical activity were more likely to take up forms of non-gaming exercise. When paired with other activities, there’s no reason why video games can’t play a part in kids’ 60-minutes-a-day exercise requirement.
There are tons of great video games to choose from to get kids up and moving with their whole bodies (not just their thumbs)! Here are 8 of our favorites.
- XBox Kinect Fruit Ninja
This game featured during the Halle Heart Museum’s school tours turns kids into a whirling dervish of fruit destruction, slicing and dicing with their hands, arms, and even legs. Somewhere there’s got to be a giant smoothie made with all that fruit!
- Wii Just Dance Kids
Just Dance Kids tops all the lists of best exercise games. With over 40 dances and plenty of songs, this one is sure to get kids to bust a move and burn some calories!
- XBox Kinect Rush Disney/Pixar
This inventive game immerses kids in the worlds of their favorite Disney/Pixar movies. Guided by the action on the screen, kids use their bodies to help characters swim, jump, climb, or run through familiar movie scenes.
- Wii Sports Resort
When you think of video games as exercise, Wii Sports Resort is the most “traditional” of the bunch, with golf, cycling, archery, bowling, and other options. This version has been upgraded from the original Wii Sports program to include plenty of new and extra sports challenges.
- Guitar Hero (available on multiple video game systems)
For a bit of a lower-intensity workout, check out Guitar Hero. (Or even for a high-intensity workout—after all, kids can take just about any activity and make it a full-body workout!)
- XBox Dance Central
Much like Just Dance Kids, this highly reviewed game teaches dance moves to fun and funky songs. Bonus: at about $9.00, it’s one of the lowest-priced games around.
- Wii Nickelodeon Fit
Nickelodeon Fit was developed in collaboration with an exercise science expert specifically to improve kids’ heart health! Players perform activities with their favorite Nickelodeon characters, like jumping rope with the Backyardigans, biking with Dora the Explorer, and river rafting with Diego.
- XBox Kinect Sports
Soccer, beach volleyball, track and field, and boxing in your living room? It’s all possible when kids play XBox Kinect Sports.
To get your kids active through video games, join us at the Halle Heart Children’s Museum every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at 3:00 P.M. for Video Game Olympics (free with admission)! Click here for all upcoming dates.