I went from being appalled to applauding in less than 24 hours!
The mayor of Chandler has called out the residents of the city to a wellness challenge. It’s the Chandler Gets Fit initiative, urging everyone to do their best to incorporate more physical activity during the day. The website lists 30 (count ‘em) THREE ZERO fun and easy activities to try. And not one of those activities is an exergame. [Where is Ernie, the exergaming evangelist to spread the word of exergaming in our city's time of need! We should have a cool way to summon you, Ernie - like a bat signal except for exergames!].
I was appalled that exergaming wasn’t on the list! So, I decided to write Mayor Dunn an email sharing my thoughts. I wrote the letter last night in an emotional state. So I decided to sleep on it before sending it this morning. The email went at 9:11am today. Here is the excerpt from my email:
Dear Mayor Boyd W. Dunn,
I am a strong advocate of programs supporting increased physical activity in our community and I was very delighted to see your ’stamp of approval’ on the Mayor’s Wellness Challenge. It is devastating to see how sedentary we have become as a society and any bit of encouragement towards being more active helps.
However, the list that was posted on the website (the one that included 30 ideas to help people be more active) was missing one popular, culturally timely activity: exergaming (video games plus exercise). Exergaming, such as playing Dance Dance Revolution or the Nintendo Wii, has been a hot topic among fitness professionals, researchers and health educators. It is a comparable alternative to traditional forms of activity, like walking, cycling and kickboxing. What most people don’t realize about exergaming is that it has the potential of being a ’stepping stone’ to other modes of activity (such as those listed in your 30). Those who may not feel comfortable participating in fitness or sports-related events may find exergames beneficial in other ways, such as building confidence and self-esteem (which can translate into other areas of life), as well as, weight-loss and increased fitness.
Please include exergaming on this list. I know it may be a small favor to ask. But simply adding ‘exergames’ helps strengthen the research that supports active video games as an accepted form of physical activity. After all, Chandler’s very own Tumbleweed Recreation Center has an entire room dedicated to exergaming.
At 9:53am (in less than an hour!), I got a response. (I was quite surprised at his quick response, actually). Here is what he wrote:
Dear Mr. Alsac,
Thank you for the e-mail and for your interest in the Wellness Challenge. You make an excellent point and we will soon add exergaming to the site as a way to stay healthy. I appreciate the input.
Did you read that?! He used exergaming and healthy in the same sentence! This must be applauded. I will have to personally shake his hand on October 18th at the “Chandler Day of Play” event when the Mayor will recognize all of those who stayed active during his challenge.
The fact that I was referred to as a ‘mister’ instead of a ‘miss or ms.’ in his email is, at this point, forgiving.
Another one for the exergaming team! [Ernie would be proud!]