Joining a gym is a great way to move your family into an active mindset, but it’s certainly not the only way to go. Thanks to the popularity of “exergaming”—video games specifically designed to be a form of exercise—and motion-tracking technology, kids don’t even have to leave the living room to get their hearts pumping and build core strength, balance, and flexibility.
Exergaming offers something for every type of young player: some games involve traditional sports, others encourage fitness through competition or adventure. Each option below is sure to get every member of your family off the couch and moving, regardless of their fitness level or skill set.
1. Just Dance®Kids can show off their killer moves in this virtual dance contest. Choose a song, then follow the onscreen dancer for points. Younger dancers can groove to tracks from classic films like Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast on Just Dance 1, while kids 11 and up will dig the pop-heavy track list of Just Dance 4, which includes Rihanna and
Nintendo Wii, PlayStation, Xbox 360, Kinect, $19.99-$29.99, All ages
2. Jumpstart Get Moving Family FitnessBrooke Burke, co-host of “Dancing with the Stars” (and a mom of four), guides players through more than 15 high-action sports games, including boxing, volleyball, speed skating, and biking. Crank up the adventure level by adjusting different settings that allow kids to compete underwater, on a farm, or in a foreign land.
Nintendo Wii, $29.99, All ages
3. Nickelodeon FitBike with Dora, then jump rope with the Backyardigans. Nick Fit is designed to get even the youngest kids moving, with inspiration from their favorite Nickelodeon characters. More than 30 games are available, and a special feature allows different activities to be looped together to create custom routines.
Nintendo Wii, $19.99, ages 4 and up
4. Big League Sports for KinectThink of Big League Sports as an indoor sports tournament for your entire family. Up to four players at a time can compete against each other in golf, hockey, baseball, basketball, soccer, or football. Thanks to the cool Kinect sensor, kids will work up a sweat mimicking real sports moves, like swinging a nine iron or throwing a pass.
Xbox 360, $39.99, ages 7 and up
5. Active Life: Outdoor ChallengeJump over logs! Steer a mine cart! Raft down a river! Over a dozen high-energy single or multi-player challenges will thrill young gamers. Plus, the Active Life Mat (included) lets players control the action with their hands and feet and encourages even more running, rolling, and jumping.
Nintendo Wii, $97.95, ages 6 and up
6. Sports Champions 2™Awesome 3D effects will make kids feel like they really are skiing down a snowy mountain or bowling for a strike. The six sports mini-games featured here, including high-energy boxing and more low-key archery, are a bit challenging at first, but that just means that players will keep coming back to try to score big.
PlayStation 3, $29.99, ages 9 and up
7. My Fitness CoachThanks to a virtual personal trainer, nearly 500 unique exercises, and 70 music tracks to choose from, the workouts offered here always feel fresh and fun. Just like a real personal trainer, the game sets fitness goals, tracks each user’s progress, and even gives pep talks if someone needs a little kick of fitness inspiration!
Nintendo Wii, $22.98, 12 and up
8. Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013This game is packed with fun, challenging options, particularly older kids. They can burn calories while moving to music, get tips on floor exercises like push ups and sit ups that target specific muscle groups, and follow the onscreen instructions for over 200 sports moves, from cardio boxing to yoga. An added bonus: Your Shape offers
150 recipes on the Wii Game Pad to encourage kids and parents to eat healthy together.
Nintendo Wii U, $29.99, 10 and up