Archive for October, 2007
Ernie Medina, CEO/Co-Founder of XRTainment Zone and better known as the “exergaming evangelist” (how cool is that?!) brought to my attention this article from the October 2007 issue of Fit Business Pro. This article basically states that commercial fitness clubs and health facilities should begin generating more programs to serve the video gaming demographic.
It states that, “the number of participants in gaming dwarfs the number of those who belong to health clubs. This trend will continue as games and technology become more ubiquitous.” If this is the case, why aren’t we seeing more gyms incorporating exergaming into their facilities? Could there be other variables (or barriers) involved in implementing exergames and other technologically-based equipment into commercial clubs?
Another good point mentioned in the article: “Consider drawing the gaming demographic into your club by having computers and games available, even if they are not yet incorporated into your exercise equipment.” I agree. Trade in a few empty treadmills for a few computers. If folks can afford hours at a Starbucks due to the wireless access, then why wouldn’t they spend those hours sitting at the gym. At least they’ll be around people who are exercising and the view could be nice… right? Okay, maybe not… or maybe…
Anyway, check out the article… it’s timely and brings these thoughts into discussion.
Last month I wrote a post about how the lines between virtual game play and the real world were starting to blur. We are seeing more games incorporate a physical dimension with their computer interfaces. Yesterday, CNN.com posted another article about exergaming. Although the article highlights the exercise trend that video games like Dance Dance Revolution have started, it also mentions the possibility of a fitness buisness surviving in virtual communities. Virtual worlds like Second Life and companies like Expresso Fitness and Island Worlds are at the forefront of this exploration.
(Also, the article includes a few quotes by yours truly!)
The use of technology can be debatable when it comes to education – when is it appropriate to bring technology into the classroom, what kind of technology is effective in teaching, and how will it ultimately benefit student learning? These are some of the questions that are frequently appearing in today’s academic conversations. Check out Educause, a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology.
At Mesa Community College, I co-facilitate (with colleague Shelley Rodrigo) a sub-group within the Faculty Professional Learning Community (FPLC) specifically about new technologies in education (we call ourselves the “Jetsons”). A group of us (staff and faculty) gather regularly and discuss topics like podcasting, blogging, Second Life, wikis and other types of social media and explore how they apply to our own teachings.
I’m always interested in how these technologies apply to health and fitness education. Becuase I discuss a wide range of health-related topics in my classes, I feel it’s important that students have an opportunity to broadcast what they’ve learned with the public. This is valuable for two reasons: 1) the quality of work increases when students know their projects will be viewed by the public, 2) it is another way to increase health awareness in the our local and global community.
Technology allows people to easily create media messages and broadcast them online. So why not create more health-related messages? So, this semester I’ve been toying with the use of blogging, podcasting, and vodcasting in health and fitness education. Embedding these features within projects and assignments, I’m learning a lot about the effectiveness of this technology as my students discuss the pros/cons of their experiences in using them.
Podcasts: Every 2-3 weeks I give the students a challenge to create a podcast on an assigned question or topic. One week I asked them to interview people in the community about their barriers to exercise. The next day we listened to the podcasts and used these real-life scenarios to discuss ways to combat people’s resistance to physical activity. I found that Gabcast was the most convenient way for students to capture audio and publish the podcast simply by using their cellphones – no mics, computer audio programs, post-production edit, etc. (I’ve posted these student podcasts on the class blog.)
Vodcasting: With over 65,000 videos uploaded to YouTube a day, it’s evident that audio/video production is not as cumbersome as it used to be. Back in the day (when I went to school), asking students to create a multi-media presentation for class (unless it was a film/TV production course) was a challenge. I’ve found that this net-generation of students are less resistant to these kinds of opportunities. This semester each student is creating a health-related public service announcement (PSA). Using JumpCut to create their message, students can create an effective montage sequence coupled with music and informative text. They can share their work with friends, family, and the public (and get direct feedback)! (I’ve posted these PSA’s on the class blog.)
Blogging: I haven’t decided how to best integrate the use of blogs into my classes, yet. So far I have only offered assignments where students can follow certain health-related blogs and report feedback on them. Also, I’m keeping a public class blog and using it as the platform to share the students’ PSAs, podcast challenges, and research projects with the community.
I’m looking forward to exploring more of these technologies in hopes to find better ways to improve teaching and learning in health education.
In support of Blog Action Day (a day where bloggers around the world to post entries that bring awareness to environmental issues), I’ve decided to focus today’s blog entry on noise pollution. Transportation vehicles (like motorcycles) and construction sites probably have the most ear piercing sounds! Clearly not good for our hearing. Unfortunately we don’t have much control over these factors. So what can we do about it? Good question.
I used to work at fitness facility where the Group Exercise Coordinator was meticulous about taking decibel readings while we were teaching – especially during the cycling and kickboxing classes where the music was always loud and pumpin’. Instructors were required to keep the music volume (including the mic volume) at or below 85 decibels (which is where hearing damage begins). If you consider normal conversation is at 60 dB and an average car is about 100 dB, then 80-85 dB is not that loud. In fact, that facility even provided ear plugs to members whose ears were extra sensitive.
To all group exercise instructors out there – in preservation of our environmental and physical health, I challenge you to incorporate moments of silence or ambient nature sounds into your group fitness classes. (Or at the very least, be extra mindful of the volume levels and keep the music extra low this week.)
I also thought Health and Fitness Marketing blog suggested a good tip: passing up the treadmill for an outdoor run!
What will you do today?
Second Life continues to amaze me! Check out this week’s article from the Washington Post discussing how SL is being explored for its health-related uses – everything from health education to medical application. Who knows how these virtual communities and services will impact our real life health in the long run, but for now, this type of experimentation is worth pursuing.
I’ve been venturing around in Second Life, as well. In fact, this October marks my one year anniversary in SL. I’ve done a lot of exploration, but certainly don’t consider myself an expert in SL. It’s time to officially introduce you to my alter-ego (or ‘avatar’) – Kix Kayamanu! She is a health-fitness journalist (or explorer), spending most of her time discovering new virtual destinations that focus on health, fitness, and wellness education and application in the virtual world.
I will document more of her journeys on this blog. (Picture: Kix sits on the patio chair at the Mystic Academy – a place for spiritual growth, wellness education, and mindful practices!)
According to the Entertainment Software Association, the statistics on video games state that the average video game player is 33-years-old. Well, today is my birthday and although I’m just shy of 33, I definitely fall within one standard deviation from that number. I guess that either makes me statistically significant or just your average game player…
I have played video games and computer games since childhood. Although the average game player has played for approximately 12 years, I exceed that by 7-8 years – at least. (Most of my friends don’t know this about me: my brother and I used to program computer games on the family CGA Compaq Presario and often played through lunch and dinner.)
Today, in order to celebrate my ‘geekiness,’ I have devoted part of my day to playing video games, discussing video games, and (dare I say) purchasing video games!
This semester at Mesa Community College, I’m instructing a class called Priniciples of Fitness & Wellness in the Exercise Science Department. Because a lot of discussion surrounds video games and their influences on our culture, I thought it might be an appropriate opportunity to focus on those physically interactive games (like Dance Dance Revolution – aka DDR – and Nintendo’s Wii-Fit) and their impact in the health and fitness community. Not only is this a great way to discuss the alternative ways technology is being used to promote healthful behaviors, but it is a legitimate excuse for me to bring my PS2 to class and set up the DDR play-offs for my students! (Needless to say, they LOVED it!)
Keep the spirit alive and be sure to “Get your game on today!”
When it comes to subscribing to blogs, you have to spend a lot of time sorting through a million foggy-blogs before finding those that are substancial (and hopefully, still active) enough to read. I don’t care if Technorati claims over 70 million blogs online. I just want to know which blogs are worth following and which ones I should avoid completely. And in terms of health and wellness, the challenge is even greater to find blogs that are informational, creative, and let’s face it, honest. (We are all sick of hearing/reading/blogging about quick fix weight-loss and fitness gimmicks.)
Like many online addicts, I’ve spent countless hours on the web looking for relevant blogs in my profession. This week, NOEDb (Nursing Online Education Database) published the top 100 Health and Wellness blogs. (Now I can finally have my Second Life back. LOL!) The list covers all blogs dealing with medicine, general health/disease, weight-loss, diet, nutrition, physical activity, strength training, and alternative health/medicine.
Although a list like this has been long overdue, I am ecstatic that it’s finally available for people to use as a reference (if you haven’t been subscribing to them already). But I have to make one big comment about this list (okay, maybe two)…
Glancing at the blogs, I’d say most of them are written by those who are NOT professionals in their field. This, by no means, invalidates these blogs – in fact, it probably validates them more. They have no ulterior motives. Their authenticity relies on the combination of experiencial knowledge, passion in wanting current & relevant information, and enthusiasm for their topic. Perhaps they are a greater resource than their professional counterparts. It’s somehow more endearing to follow a newbie in his journey to train for a triathlon than reading a professional trainer’s how-to blog to triathlons (aka training guide, aka from his book, aka that you should buy, aka from Amazon.)
So I started thinking: Why didn’t any of the blogs written by personal trainers, group exercise instructors, or lifestyle/wellness coaches make this list? I know they exist. Don’t these health/fitness professionals have experiencial knowledge, stay current on industry education, and have enthusiasm for what they do? I would hope so. So, why wouldn’t this list reflect these professional blogs? Mmm, something to think about…
The article also mentions the lack of alternative health/medicine blogs. It only listed 4 quality blogs under this category (not counting the 2 pilates and yoga blogs), of which 2 were on acupuncture/pressure, 1 on massage therapy/body work, and 1 on Chinese medicine. Quite a limited range. Isn’t there a growing community in alternative medicine, naturopathy/homeopathy, and other holisic and complementary health practices?
So, where is the presence of our health, fitness, and wellness professionals in the blogosphere?