Well, folks, the journal Frontiers in Autonomic Neuroscience has replaced Entertainment Weekly as my favorite magazine.
That’s because of an article they published in the June issue (the one with Jennifer Aniston on the cover*) that was reported on by The Huffington Post.
It’s about a study done at the School of Medicine at the University of Western Sydney (motto: “We’re better than the School of Medicine at the University of Eastern Sydney”).
The study showed that “when watching a first person video of someone else running, heart rate, respiration, skin blood flow and sweat release all increased.”
So that you don’t have to put too much effort into understanding that, let me explain: It means you can burn off calories watching somebody exercise! This is indeed wonderful news for anyone whose New Year’s resolution was to think about shedding a few pounds.
Now before you get all excited and run down to the gym (okay, drive down to the gym) to watch someone work out on an elliptical trainer while you drink a latte, notice that it says “first person” video. Think of those first person shooter video games, only without the gun held out in front of you and, you know, the fun. It’s as if someone is jogging while wearing a helmet cam and you’re seeing what the fit person is seeing–for instance, the road that he or she is running on, or the nice tush of the person he or she is running behind. This whole thing doesn’t work if you’re just watching a football game, especially if it’s the Jets.
But how great is this? I can just sit on my couch enjoying a video of someone running and get more exercise than if I was sitting on the couch not watching a video of someone running.
And why stop there? I want my guy to ride a bike for a few miles, too. And then swim. I want to be an Iron Man watcher!
You know that it won’t be long before there’s an array of first-person exercise videos out there, many in exotic locations. “Run through Rome!” “Jog through Jakarta!” “Sprint through Spain.”
We have friends who are always taking biking tours through various locales, but videos of bicycle tours would be so much better because you could still see all the scenery but not have to wear those silly tight shorts.
Here’s the thing, though. I think watching somebody run or bike would be just as boring as doing it myself. Which brings me to my billion dollar product idea: First-person Shooter Exercise Video Games!
Imagine…imagining you’re jogging through the countryside, waving to woodland creatures and whistling along with whatever tune you’ve programmed your unseen avatar to listen to, when you suddenly come upon the remains of a post-apocalyptic city, because it wouldn’t be a video game without a post-apocalyptic city. Rather than turn around like a sane person, you continue your run, effortlessly leaping over fallen buildings and decaying bodies, when–LOOK OUT! That Zompire has seen you! He’s moving fast in your direction, wanting to suck your blood and eat your flesh. Quick–take evasive action. You turn a corner and see a scantily-clad girl calling for help because it wouldn’t be a video game without a scantily-clad girl. You race past her and… But–no. You can’t just leave her to die, so you go back and kiss her, and then you leave her to die, because maybe that will stop the Zompire from chasing you. You continue running while sitting on your couch, and you’re getting nauseous now because the helmet cam POV is bouncing up and down, and there are enemy snipers shooting at you and now there’s another Zompire in front of you so you leap toward the monster, simultaneously puncturing his heart and his brain with the two tines of the specially-designed stake fork you traded for during your last workout, and the Zompire’s blood spurts out like a fountain because it wouldn’t be a video game without spurting blood.
I bet your heart rate, respiration, skin blood flow and sweat release are really going now, huh?
Of course, the researchers behind the study are quick to caution people who will immediately want to adopt this sort of exercise regimen. “While watching other people exercise may increase your heart rate and have other physiological effects,” one of them said, “nothing can replace the health benefits of getting off the couch.”
They probably had visions of idiots spending their entire lives watching videos and thinking they are the healthiest specimens of humanity that have ever watched someone walk the earth, and then, when they finally leave the couch to, say, nuke some leftover Chinese food, glance in a mirror and realize they not only haven’t lost weight, they now have bed sores on their asses from sitting in one place so long, so they sue the School of Medicine at the University of Western Sydney.**
Of course you have to get off the couch, you schmucks. You’re gonna need new batteries in that remote sooner or later.
See you soon.
*Kidding. I’m not even sure it has a cover.
**This would cause the researchers at the School of Medicine at the University of Eastern Sydney to shriek with delight.