Dancing Away Obesity

With the childhood obesity epidemic sweeping the country, the state of West Virginia is turning to an unlikely ally: video games. It plans to incorporate the video-arcade game called Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) in all of its public schools within the next two years.

The Early Show had a demonstration on Thursday morning from Rod Auvil, a physical education teacher at the Taylor Middle School in West Virginia, where the state launched one of the pilot programs. He was joined by two of his students, Alexis Perks and Michael Mancino, to help show the moves.

To use DDR, players dance on top of a sensor pad, following on-screen visual cues to the beat of a popular song. The object of the game is to match your movements with the arrow cues on the screen. There are four levels: beginner, light, standard, and heavy. Anyone with a home gaming system can buy mats and play, regardless of their level of skill.

There are variations to the DDR home game versions. One is the Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 1, 2 and 3 series, which is compatible with the Xbox; there's also the Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 1 and 2 series, compatible with PlayStation2.

School officials in West Virginia hope the game will help students in public schools get in shape while also having fun. The plan is for all 765 of the state's public schools to add DDR to their physical education programs within the next two years. In the first phase of the program, all of the state's 157 middle/junior high schools will incorporate DDR into their curriculum in the coming months.

First introduced in Japan, Dance Dance Revolution has sold more than 3 million units across all platforms since it was introduced in the United States in 2001. Each version of the game has a unique workout mode that lets users track calories burned and conduct their own fitness regimen.

To check out co-anchor Rene Syler and her guests demonstrating a DDR, click here.
  • Polly Leider

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