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SGS Feature: 'Exergaming Goes Mainstream'

In this latest feature for Gamasutra sister site Serious Games Source, Erin Hoffman discusses the current state of exergaming, and examines Dr. Ernie Medina's XRtainment
In this latest feature for Gamasutra sister site Serious Games Source, which deals with games created for training, health, government, military, educational and other uses, Erin Hoffman discusses the current state of exergaming, and examines Dr. Ernie Medina's XRtainment Zone, which offers fun and healthy alternatives to traditional exercise regimes for both children and adults alike. As Hoffman explains, what makes Medina's XRtainment Zone unique is not just its focus on fitness through gaming, but also its partner, the local HMO Insland Empire Health Plan, whose involvement, says Hoffman, 'dramatically expanded exergaming's accessibility': “Through IEHP, pediatricians recommend select patients to Medina's program, and the state-funded HMO provides coverage for the XRtainment Zone's seven-week family fit program as well as four weeks' gym membership. Whereas a home exergaming system might be limited to a Dance Dance Revolution pad, at the XRtainment Zone patients have access to Cateye Gamebikes, EyeToy aerobic games, Powergrid Exerstations, a bouldering wall, and more, promoting a range of comprehensive exercises. The family fit program also focuses on nutrition, education, and healthy lifestyle choices, further expanding its utility and countering doctors' concerns that activity or exercise alone is not enough. A 2004 Harvard study showed that obesity, regardless of patient activity level, was a critical factor in early death incidence, indicating that exercise, though crucial, is one part of a formula for longer life. The partnership between IEHP and the XRtainment Zone is the first exergaming wellness program funded by an HMO. While health insurance has in the past covered physical therapy and stroke recovery programs that utilize interactive motivators, the XRtainment Zone is unique in having a primary and specific game focus as its health premise. With this agreement, IEHP has dramatically expanded exergaming's accessibility and reach into public health.” You can now read the full Serious Games Source feature on the subject, including more specifics on the zone, and how it tricks the patient's rate of perceived exertion to ensure they exercise harder and for longer periods of time than they normally might (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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