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Overview

Dance Aerobics is one of the earliest examples of a fitness-themed video game.

The concept of video games that can be played while exercising at the same time is not a new one. The idea dates back as far as Dance Aerobics on the NES, which made use of the NES Power Pad accessory. However, the idea of merging games and fitness together didn't begin to see true commercial and critical success until Konami released Dance Dance Revolution in arcades and later on home consoles. The game's basic framework, attempting to keep in rhythm with the music by stepping on a quartet of arrow pads on the floor of the arcade unit, made becoming fit a secondary goal to completing songs and earning high scores. As the popularity of the series increased and the fitness benefits present in DDR became more recognized, later iterations began to include basic performance monitors to measure the health benefits achieved while playing the game.

Wii Fit and the Fitness Explosion

Following the success of the Wii console, Nintendo designed an accessory called the Balance Board which could recognize a person's weight and foot position. The device shipped with Wii Fit, a title filled with various exercises and themed activities that could be performed in conjunction with the Balance Board. Wii Fit became a smash hit for Nintendo, selling millions of units. The game's success spurred third parties to target the same audience with their own fitness titles such as the Electronic Arts title EA Sports Active, which also went on to be a commercial success, as well as an arguably better fitness program than Nintendo's own. Nintendo has since produced and released Wii Fit Plus, as well as the fitness-themed DS game Personal Trainer: Walking. While it's likely that the flood of fitness titles represents the height of a trend, the success that the genre has seen indicates that in one way or another, fitness games are here to stay.

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