30 September 2009

Epic Fail: EA Sports Active 30 Day Challenge

So, this happened a while ago, but you know me, grand procrastinator extraordinaire. At the request of a friend, and with the promise of a free video game, I took on the 30 Day Challenge.

I was very excited at first, as I really could do with some fitness in my life. Each day provides a different set of exercises, which is good for variety. And there are also programmed-in 'rest days.' Things went pretty well for the first week, though I had a little trouble with the 'running - long.' The 'running' has you jogging in place, and you have to keep up a good tempo or the game shows you walking instead of running and tells you (albeit nicely) to step it up. I began to notice that 'running' of some sort was on the menu for every workout day. When it was 'short' or of a specific type (like high-knees - which is more like walking briskly while raising your knees as far as you can), it wasn't too bad. But then I started having trouble with my ankles.

With sore tendons/ligaments in my ankles, it became tough to do some of the exercises. As I mentally examined what was happening, I realized that I was actually injuring my ankles because jogging in place is NOT a natural movement. You use the joint in a completely different way than usual when jogging in place as opposed to running or walking normally. With so much jogging in place, there was no way to avoid injury. I could have, of course, opted to not do that part of the exercise routine (you can uncheck any of the exercises before the start of each workout), but then you don't get full credit for the workout, and the total calories burned is much less. And since this is done in a game-type environment, you are subtly encouraged to do the most that you can so you can earn 'trophies.'

After two and a half weeks, I missed a workout because I was ill for a couple of days. Then I didn't feel motivated to make it up because my ankles were hurting so bad, so I ended up just quitting the whole thing. It took another two weeks for my ankles to heal. When I talked to my friend who had passed the game onto me in the first place, she reported having the same problem with her ankles, and had quit at about the same point I had.

Overall, I think the game is OK if you do not do the 30 Day Challenge. You can just turn the game on and choose which exercises you would like to do for a custom workout. I feel like EA somehow missed something when designing this game, even though it was done with the help of 'experts.' Jogging in place that much just flat-out should not be a part of a regular exercise routine in my opinion. It is an unnatural movement and ends up over stressing the joint. I may end up using the other exercises as part of a regular workout routine, but I figure I can just run/walk/jog 'for real' on our treadmill.