The High-Tech, Low-Impact Health Boost

Video Games Get Physical
New body-powered video games are a great form of exercise.

Call it "exer-gaming:" one part exercise, one part video-game.

And it's not just for kids.

One weekly bowling tournament, where you have to move your body - and not just your mouse - caters to the 80-something crowd, CBS News medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook reports.

"They took to it like a duck takes to water; you can't get them away from it," said Dr. Roland Lascari, medical director of Cedar Crest Retirement Center. "They fight for it."

Or, you can fight with it.

"As a doctor, I feel really badly about having knocked you unconscious," LaPook said to his opponent.

Whether you're using your fists or shaking your hips, with everything from boxing to baseball, the virtual playing field is becoming as diverse as the physical one.

Nintendo's Jeff Pawlik showed LaPook the moves.

"I am really sweating, I have to tell you that," LaPook said.

Do older people have trouble using these sorts of gizmos?

"I think there's a learning curve, but it's only about 30 seconds," Pawlik said.

Susan Geeslin and Mary Anne Dykes, both 50-something, could barely stop playing for 30 seconds to talk to CBS News.

"This is great hand-eye coordination!" Dykes said.

And she was breaking a sweat.

Anything that gets you out there, having fun, burning calories, without hurting yourself, is good. It doesn't matter whether it's high tech, or good old-fashioned low tech.

But the advantage of high-tech is low-impact. It can provide a real workout without damaging aging joints and brittle bones.

"I think it's awesome," Geeslin said. "It'd be great exercise for people that can't really get around the tennis court."

A recent Canadian study concluded that game-bike users were 30 percent more likely to exercise than users of regular stationary bikes, and burned more calories.

The fact is, 25 percent of America's video-gamers are older than 50 - so merging something that the senior set is already doing with something they should be doing is a winning combination.

  • Jonathan LaPook

    Dr. Jonathan LaPook is the chief medical correspondent for CBS News. Follow him on Twitter at @DrLaPook