Wired Magazine recently suggested we throw in our gym passes and start up our video consoles for some active gaming, and this week, the New York Times is reporting some schools are using the popular Dance Dance Revolution game to combat childhood obesity. In fact, while some video games have gotten a bad reputation for contributing to the expanding waistlines of the nation’s children, at least several hundred schools in at least 10 states are now using Dance Dance Revolution, or D.D.R., as a regular part of their physical education curriculum.
Based on current plans, more than 1,500 schools are expected to be using the game by the end of the decade. Born nine years ago in the arcades of Japan, D.D.R. has become a small craze among a generation of young Americans who appear less enamored of traditional team sports than their parents were and more amenable to the personal pursuits enabled by modern technology.
Incorporating D.D.R. into gym class is part of a general shift in physical education, with school districts de-emphasizing traditional sports in favor of less competitive activities.
The trend started after a recent study found that children playing Dance Dance Revolution expended significantly more energy than children watching television and playing traditional video games.
For those of you that aren't in the DDR fanclub yet, I describe it as "karaoke for dancing." The game includes a floormat with built in sensors, which is hooked up to your TV and gaming console. As a song plays, arrows point in one of four directions and the player jumps/dances on them to the beat. You can play by yourself, or with a partner, but either way the movement is similar to doing a ton of jumping jacks and running in place. In fact, if Wired's predictions are correct, 1 hour of Dance Dance Revolution can burn up to 900 calories.
I'll admit, earlier this year my boyfriend's 11-year-old niece Polly challenged me to a DDR competition and within about 10 minutes I was sweating like crazy and afraid I was going to pass out. Let's just say she has a lot more practice than me.