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How to use DDR to work on your balance

Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 for Playstation 2

A while back, I wrote a post about how you can get a fun and unique core workout using DDR.  This  time, we’re going to use the game as a fun little balancing exercise that you can do whenever you have a spare ten minutes, or just need to take an all-important break from sitting.

I got this idea while watching a “knee training” workout by Mark Verstegen, on the sportskool on-demand cable channel.  I’m a big fan of Verstegen’s Core Performance book series, in which the theme is that your body moves as one integrated unit.  Thus, if you’re having knee problems, it could be that your hips or other joints and muscles aren’t doing their jobs, and need to be retrained to take the load off your knees.  The many hours of sitting that people do nowadays is causing not just obesity, but also tight hips and “lazy” glutes.

One exercise in Mark’s workout consisted of hopping back and forth over a line, without letting the other leg touch the ground, and another exercise consisted of hopping from one leg to the other, pausing for a second each time to get one’s balance.  I thought, “that looks like a job for DDR!”  So I tried it out on the Wii game DDR Hottest Party 3, after shutting off the jumps in the options menu.  (This is on the main menu under Options and Individual Options.  You might also want to turn on Cut to get rid of faster steps.)

I played Lessons 1, 2 and 3 – all beginner level songs, but just by making a “rule” that only one foot could touch the floor at any time, they became quite a challenge!  Beginner songs are actually a little harder than “basic” songs when played this way, because they have fewer steps, causing you to have to balance on one leg longer.

This is a fun way to enjoy beginner-level songs (I like those “Lesson” songs) and if you have the PS2 or Xbox DDR games, you can use Edit Mode to craft a balancing workout for other songs as well.

DDR helps high school football team become “story of the year” in Georgia

The Butler HS football team in Augusta, GA has turned the beat around – from 41 straight losses to a 5-0 record – thanks to a benevolent school nurse and DDR!  According to an article/video from WJBF-TV, the nurse shared her DDR game (which she won in a contest) with the hapless team “as a joke”, but no one’s laughing now:

Because of Dance Dance Revolution, the Bulldogs say they have better reaction time, eye-hand coordination and footwork on the field.

“A lot of the pros use dancing as a way to improve their footwork. This is a low-cost way to improve our footwork here,” said Butler assistant coach, Ernest Tolbert.

Butler’s team and fans haven’t seen a squad with this much team chemistry in years.

“It just takes our mind off everything and helps us relax a little bit,” said Butler offensive lineman, Slyvester Hagins. “But, also, it helps us take care of business, too.”

But, really… How much has a video game carried the Bulldogs to their success this season?

“Anything that will have our guys play hard and have a certain amount of togetherness, I want to say 100% because our team is together on a lot of little things, and this is one of them,” said Coach Tolbert.

Now there’s a smart coach who knows that meeting your goals – whether you goal is to make more goals, lose weight or be healthy – depends not just on going through the motions, but togetherness and support.

(In case you’re wondering, it looks like they’re playing DDR Supernova 2, one of the better DDR games for PS2.)

Uncle Sam wants DDR to get Navy into ship shape

With DDR torching fat off moms and kids across the nation, the Navy is interested in turning its boot camps into boot-stomping camps!  According to the Navy Times, the tech-savvy Navy Surgeon General Vice Admiral Adam Robinson wants to incorporate exergames like DDR and Wii Fit into physical training programs for recruits, for much the same reason they are being used in schools:  because recruits aren’t as physically fit as they used to be, in large part because of all the time they spend in front of computers.  So giving them something they enjoy, a “gateway” activity, will build their endurance and strength to tackle more traditional exercises.  (Maybe the Wii rowing machine can be put to good use here.)

The article notes that many female recruits are suffering bone fractures, due to not being used to running or even standing for long periods.  DDR is just the ticket for that, with all its high-impact jumping and running.  Playing doubles will help develop amazing flexibility and agility as well.

I salute the Navy from my dance pad for their forward thinking!  If they want to save Uncle Sam a few dollars and buy games off the shelf, may I suggest DDRMAX2 for PS2 which contains a remix of, what else, “In The Navy”.

West Virginia DDR kids keep on mashing those mats

West Virginia schools have embraced DDR for fun and fitness since 2004, and now the first statewide DDR competition is under way, as reported by the Charleston Gazette.  10,000 students across the state are competing for a trophy and a $2,500 scholarship.  No word yet on whether any colleges are providing DDR scholarships, but we can only hope!

More PE instructors are warming up to DDR and other video  games for fitness.  From the article:

Childhood obesity in West Virginia is a growing problem, and the dynamic of how people exercise is also changing, said Becky Myers, physical education instructor at Capital High.

“We have to look at promoting physical education in a whole different way,” Myers said.

The challenge is to get students interested in and excited about exercising and healthy habits, Myers said. DDR is one tool that “gets them off the couch and moving,” she said.

The use of DDR in schools also gets away from the “jock aspect” — the idea that students have to be athletes to be active and healthy, she said.

Some students are not basketball or baseball stars, but they’ll get into DDR, realize how much fun it is and how well they play, she said.

This former “PE dropout” can totally relate to being left out of the jock world, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to see exergames leading the way to a greater view of exercise: it’s not all about winning is the only thing, or punishing off the pounds, but rather about being active and healthy and having FUN.

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