A very amateur and unscientific video game weight loss experiment.
2012 sucks. No, not the movie. By definition any movie that both shows Los Angeles being destroyed AND features Danny Glover as the President of the United States can’t suck. What I mean is that nothing has gone the way I wanted this year. Enough to tax my mind to the point where I decided I wanted to transfer some of the stress from my mind to my body. So I figured I would jog, or lift weights, or something of that nature. But, it just so happened I came across and article on Yahoo! discussing the calorie burning exploits of a woman using the Xbox 360 Kinect. The article happened to focus on two games which were currently available to me for the Kinect; Dance Central 2 and Kinect Adventures. The article stated that the amount of calories burned during a 20 minute session on these two games was comparable to 20 minutes of simple running. This seemed like good news to me since it is winter and running outside is rather a difficult thing to do on a regular basis. And I also thought, hey, this could be a cool video game related experiment to write an article about. I’m by no means an expert on anything health related. But this is just a basic summary of what I did and what my weight loss results were in pounds. First, a short bit about the games, since this is a video game article and all.
Dance Central 2 is your basic dance game. You attempt to mimic the moves presented to you on the screen to earn points. One of the things that helps Dance Central stand out is the excellent library of dancing games. Modern hits such as Grenade and Born This Way are complimented with a collection of older dance classics like Baby Got Back and This is How We Do It.
Kinect Adventures is an adventure game in which you try to beat timed levels or levels with a certain amount of points required to win. It features a few different types of games. One game features you standing in a glass aquarium that is repeatedly assaulted by fish and you have to plug the holes to stop the leaks. Another game is in which you have to deflect balls at targets at the end of the screen without letting the balls get past you. The more notable games exercise-wise I’ll get into below.
If the disturbing enthusiasm of these people in this trailer doesn’t at least intrigue you then… well that’s completely fair.
So, to the experiment. Mine was pretty basic. Use the Kinect daily along with a healthy diet and measure the results over a given period of time. I don’t know anymore about dieting than I do fitness, so basically all I did was avoid bad greasy food and eat lots of veggies and drink tons of water. In general, I would spend roughly 1-2 hours playing the games each night. I split the games up and usually gave Dance Central 2 the majority of my play. After the first few days of playing the games, it seemed obvious to me that Dance Central 2 was much faster and had me moving a lot more without annoying breaks in between songs/levels. I found that really only two of the games on Kinect Adventure felt like they were conducive to burning more calories. Those being Reflex Ridge and River Rush. Reflex Ridge is basically an obstacle course that keeps you ducking, dodging and jumping to avoid obstacles that come your way. This easily seemed the best adventure in this game for weight loss. Something this game offered that the dance game didn’t offer was getting down low to the floor. River Rush is basically you rafting down a river moving the boat side to side to collect items, during which you can aim for ramps and other spots where you have to jump to make your raft jump as well. My biggest issue with the games was the downtime in between games. (The game calculating scores, a helicopter floating to each level etc.) I tried to fill in all the downtime with jumping jacks. But, overall, I just didn’t feel a consistent flow that I wanted to feel.
The Dance Central 2 game felt significantly more like a workout then the Kinect Adventures game. Furthermore, it had better flow. The downtime in between songs in the workout mode was minimal and was just a short wait while the next song loaded. The fitness section also gave the option for the type of dancing pace you’d prefer. I usually went with the faster songs to keep my body going. Matter of fact, by the end of my 15 day experiment I mostly spent my Kinect time on Dance Central 2 giving little time (10-20 minutes) on Kinect Adventures. The fitness mode also kept track of the amount of calories you burned each session. I questioned the accuracy of the calorie tracker though. I felt like it undershot the actual amount of calories being burned. But like I’ve mentioned, I’m by no means knowledgeable on the subject whatsoever. It just seemed that the calorie counter was pretty low to be around 300 calories after 60 minutes of dancing. So, I did some online research and that number was pretty accurate to what various sites said an hour of dancing should burn. So, I guess well done, calorie counter. Maybe what gave me the wrong impression was in the article I had read on Yahoo! about these games, in which the author had stated losing about 250ish calories in 20 minutes of dance. Anyway, I should probably get to the interesting part.
For 15 days I played the Kinect nightly with the exception of two nights in that span, but I supplemented those days with a light jog. I started at a weight of 226 pounds and finished at a current weight of 209 pounds. A loss of 17 pounds or roughly a pound a day during my little, unscientific experiment. I don’t know if a portion of that was mostly water weight (whatever water weight is?) or if the diet was also a major factor in the weight loss but either way I feel really good about the results. Another thing that could have been a factor was going from almost no cardio activities to 500+ minutes a week. Regardless, even as a non-expert I have decided to declare the Kinect a successful weight loss tool.