Just Dance: Gaming for Exercise
Two and a half years ago, the video game Just Dance was released for Nintendo Wii. Since then, the game has taken off, already releasing several sequels and hundreds of songs. It’s taken me two and a half years, but I’ve finally decided to see what all of the fuss was about.
I knew very little about the game before trying it. I had briefly taken part in the Dance Dance Revolution era that had started about a decade ago, and I had been okay with that. When Just Dance burst onto the scene, I saw several commercials featuring young people with smooth moves and happy faces. Using Wii remotes, these young people would smoothly mimic the moves of the person on the screen. It seemed simple.
A few weeks ago I got hold of Just Dance 2 and tried it out. I was, not surprisingly, ungraceful. I often fell behind the rhythm, and my flailing was quite embarrassing to watch. Tina Turner rolled on the river, and I sank into it. I wasn’t sure what I was walking like, but it certainly wasn’t an Egyptian. After five songs, I had to sit, sweating and panting from the effort of the desperate floundering that I called "dancing."
After further evaluation of the game, I discovered that the game had an exercise function called “sweat mode.” In this setting, dancers boogie as they would in any other mode, and the game keeps track of the energy released, or the “sweat count.” This game certainly requires a significant amount of movement. It has even been advertised as promoting exercise and fitness. I was curious exactly what kind of exercise I got every time I “danced,” so I did some research.
Dance and Health
Experts say dancing is very good for your health. Dancing helps to:
- Increase flexibility
- Build strength
- Boost endurance
- Improve self esteem
These factors refer to dancing in general, without a screen. The benefits, however, are similar.
Here are the stats for Just Dance 2:
- You burn approximately 6 calories for 1 minute of dancing.
- If you do the math, that comes out to 190 calories in 30 minutes.
- Dance for 1.5 hours and you burn 570 calories.
- If you multiply that by 7 (once for each day of the week) and divide it by the number of calories in a pound (3500), you come to a whopping 1.15 pounds per week.
Alas, for the amount of time this requires (10.5 hours/week), this is not a huge change.
A Better Workout
If you want to use JD2 to help get in shape, there are a few extra things you can do.
- Keep moving in between songs. Jump up and down, or walk in place to keep your body burning energy.
- Pair your dance workout with other exercise.
- Dance like I do. I don’t have the stats to prove it, but I’m sure my superfluous thrashing burns more calories than regular dance moves. The downside to this method is that you don’t get any of those high scores or “good jobs” that actually make the game fun.
I’ve actually played JD2 several times since my first encounter, and I’ve gotten a fair deal better. I may not be the best dancer in the world--I may not even burn that many calories--but it certainly doesn’t hurt to participate. Getting a little workout is just a perk of a fun game.