Credit to: Narayana Games

Child Obesity Epidemic

Children are our best hope for the future, yet 1 out of every 6 children and teenagers are obese in the United States. This unnerving and scary fact that’s been confirmed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is the cold hard truth that everyone must face. Children are getting unhealthier every year, and it’s time we see children’s affinity for video games and virtual reality as an effective way to help prevent obesity from taking our children’s health away from them. Can the lifestyle choices we make as individuals and families fight childhood obesity? Let’s dive in.

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It’s a Worldwide Problem

Worldwide there are 41 million children and growing who are overweight or obese, according to the World Health Organization’s 2014 data. Who or what’s to blame? Many people point the finger at how inactive children and families are getting. Edward R. Laskowski, M.D. from the Mayo Clinic urges parents with children and teens ages 6 and up to get their kids off the couch and exercising for at least an hour every day. But, this is sadly not applicable to most kids.

Only 21% of kids between the ages of 6 to 19 actually get the daily recommended amount of exercise. That’s less than one in four! Now, what about the rest of the kids, you know, the other three-quarters? They’ll most likely keep on the trajectory to gaining more and more weight. It’s seemingly overwhelming and unstoppable — unless parents and adults intervene with a fun exercise to combat it.

Kids and Teens Sit More Than They Play

Kids love to play video games, love sports, have vivid imaginations, are resilient learners, and live to have fun! They’d probably play sedentary video games all day if parents let them, and some sort of do. In a 2009 NPD report, U.S. marketing research showed that teenage video gamers ages 12 to 14 spent the most time out of all age groups playing video games at 10.6 hours a week. That’s ten hours that those teens could have been getting much-needed exercise.

This is not to say that they don’t get exercise in school or gym class, they probably do. However, sitting at school for hours during instruction, exercising during PE and taking snack/lunch breaks, and then returning home to rack up ten hours or more of sitting in front of a video game and snacking isn’t a proactive approach to improving a child’s health. In fact, a 2015 sitting study done on young girls noted that even 3 hours of prolonged sitting would decrease vascular flow as much as 33%, which would later affect them as adults.

VR Helps Teens and Kids Exercise

Be an involved parent and lovingly use what kids love to play as a motivation to get exercise. Don’t punish the kid by taking away the Wii, 3DS, PlayStation, or PC game. Instead, look for an outlet that’s similar to the one they’re used to, like VR,  to get them to take action and have fun at the same time. The combination of physical activity and the immersive fun of a virtual world will hold a child or teen’s attention for just as long as any stationary video game, making them forget that they’re actually exercising. We won’t say anything if you won’t.

Kids love learning about VR, testing it, and playing imaginative and interactive games. So why not let them strap on a VR head gear and let them do what they do best — play. There are amazing organizations like VR Health Institute of Health and Exercise, headed by founder Aaron Stanton, that study and provide the public with information about the physical benefits of playing virtual reality games. They are also one of the few organizations that have a list of child-friendly VR games, thoughtful reviews, and a handy guide directing you to which games and workouts will burn the most calories per session.

VR Games That Are Kid and Parent Approved

Here is a list of VR games that will give you hours of entertainment, exercise, and great memories with your kids. VR games can be found online at the Steam VR Store or the Oculus Rift store.

On Steam

HTC headsets are compatible with games from the Steam Store.

  • Holodance
  • Ropes and Dragons VR
  • Candy Kingdom VR
  • A-10 VR
  • Audioshield
  • Spooky Night
  • Goalkeep VR
  • Sword Master
  • #Archery
  • Bitslap
  • Fruit Ninja VR
  • Space Pirate Trainer
  • Arcade Saga
  • Rec Room
  • Sprint Vector (Coming Soon!)

On Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift headsets are only compatible with games from the Oculus Store.

  • Echo Arena
  • Super Kaiju
  • The Climb
  • Fruit Ninja VR
  • VR Sports Challenge
  • Knockout League
  • Audioshield
  • NBA 2KVR Experience
  • Holo Ball
  • Final Goalie
  • Airtone
  • Rec Room
  • Show Must Go On

Exercise With VR Improves Health

In an article from Parents, Karin A Bilich explains that children who exercise regularly will reap short term and long term physical benefits. She notes that exercise keeps all internal organs like the heart, circulatory system, and brain, in tip top shape. She emphasizes to parents that kids need strong bones to promote growth and to prevent painful bone breaks at an early age.

It is widely known that exercise can help reduce the occurrence of cancer, high blood pressure, and weight gain if a health intervention is quickly enacted. Essentially, what kids learn to love, like exercise and eating right, can have a huge impact on their health and well-being as adults — for the good and the bad. 

Get Started Using VR Today

If motivating your child, teen, or the entire family to exercise is of utmost importance to you please read the VR Fitness Insider’s Starter Guide

You’ll find information about the types of VR kits that are available on the market, the computers they are most compatible with, and other useful tips on how to best incorporate virtual reality with exercise.