November 18, 2006 Civilisation has a problem - the number of obese children (Ages 6 to 11) in America has more than doubled, and the number of obese adolescents (Ages 12 to 19) has more than tripled in the last 30 years with both representing more than 15 percent of their respective age group populations. Whatsmore, the number of overweight children represents another 15 percent and growing, so the recent development of a novel way of incorporating exercise into the health regime of children bears some thought. A British children’s fitness specialist has developed Step2Play, a step exercise machine that links directly to a child’s Playstation. A rate of exercise can be set at the start of the child’s game and then as long as the child maintains a constant rate of exercise as they play their video game, the game’s controller will remain active. If the child stops, the game pauses and the controller stops working. Two players can use different steppers and controllers to play two-player games. There is also another product named CyberBike which is designed for children as young as four and achieves a similar result.
In addition to the Step2Play machine, the package will be offered with games specially selected for the under-12 age group. Because Step2Play does not control the game itself, just the controller, it can still be used to play any Playstation game. Various packages will be available up to and including the Step2Play machine, games, games console and flat-screen television.
Rick Dalton, Director of Gymkids, which sees potential in both the home and schools market for “Step2Play”, sees the irony behind the product:
“Computer games may have been held up as one of the major reasons why children have become less active. Unfortunately, the reality is that I don’t think we are ever going to totally convince children to put away the Playstation in favour of running around outside. “Step2Play” combines both activities and, whilst it isn’t an alternative to outdoor play and exercise, it is one way of combining a previously sedentary activity with a bit of movement and exercise. With around a quarter of boys and girls aged 2-15 in England overweight, this has to be a step in the right direction.”
Gymkids has made its name as a supplier of specially-developed children’s fitness equipment, primarily for the schools market, both through the PE curriculum and also through after-school Gymkids Fun & Fitness Clubs.
The Gymkids range, which includes miniature treadmills, airwalkers, rowing machines and cycling machines has been designed to make fitness more fun for children. Products are grouped for suitability for the nursery (under 5s), Key Stage One (5-7 years) and Key Stage Two (7 – 11 years) age group. Crucially, the products are not intended to enhance muscle development but, under adult supervision, to encourage children to enjoy fitness and take part in regular cardiovascular activity. In using the products, children will only ever push against their own weight. The objective is to make exercise fun from an early age and, in so doing, help engender healthy, active habits that will last a lifetime.
The exercise machines cost UKP115 each