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April 13, 2012 at 2:52 PMComments: 6 Faves: 0

Just Dance: Gaming for Exercise

By Matthew More Blogs by This Author

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.

My Story

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.

Burning Calories

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.

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  • Awesome topic, Matt! I definitely agree with you, for only losing a little over a pound...10 hours of work just isn't worth it! I am sure jogging or running or even just walking at a fast pace may burn more.

  • I am definitely going to have to try these games. I have played DDR several times, and outside of looking like a drunken monkey, I have enjoyed it while sweating at the same time. This sounds much more fun. Thanks for the tip!

  • "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." LOL

    Great blog, Matt!

    My daughter loves playing this and does way better than I do - but I complain that she's cheating - she barely moves her feet! :P Because of this, I've been skeptical of the "calorie counter" system they include with the game. Is this the calories I'm ACTUALLY burning? The calories I WOULD be burning if I could dance like the people of the screen? A completely made-up number?

    I agree with you though - not terribly important. It's fun and it does provide some exercise. Probably shouldn't be the only source of exercise I get, but it's a good addition. :)

  • Yes, I imagine you would have to dance like the people on the screen in order to burn the same number of calories. I'm guessing most people can't do that. I certainly can't

  • it sure looks like fun! wish I could try it some day.

  • I love this game! I feel like this is just a good cardio warm up though - not a labor intensive calorie burner. This is just something i do to get the blood flowing to my brain. Harder work outs come later :) Also this might be a great way to ease into tough workouts for out of shape people?

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