A "dance pad" game may seem a bit odd as a weight loss tool, but it is actually a very effective aerobic workout, as embodied in the genre leading Dance Dance Revolution series. You can buy dance pad games for all the major consoles, but our favourite is the version for the Nintendo Wii, as in addition to moving your feet to match the dance pad markers, there are also right and left hand moves you need to make with the Wii's unique motion sensing controllers. If you don't have a Wii, it's not necessary to go out and buy one, simply get the version of Dance Dance Revolution for the video game console you own (PS3, ). If you don't own a video game console, you're no doubt familiar with the Wii and how it has expanded massively among non-gamers, especially women, so you may want to consider buying the Wii console (which is down to £139). We especially favour the Wii as the Wii Fit Plus game is specifically designed for weight loss.
All dance pad games follow the same principles--you pick a song from the couple dozen usually loaded on the game, then dance--matching your foot moves to different parts of the dance mat (which is usually divided up like a tic-tac-toe board into nine squares. Again, the version for the Wii also uses the Wii controller and nunchuck to incorporate arm motions when certain symbols appear on the screen. It can be quite tiring, but it's not going to match the workout of say a dedicated crosstrainer. Still, it can be alot more fun, as you pick the tunes you'd like to dance to. Of course, it can look rather silly to an observer, so we'd suggest drawing the curtains when you're using it, but once you're in the game you forget about all that anyway. And yes, they can definitely lead to significant weight loss if used consistently--one CNN story told of a teenager who lost a couple stone solely by playing every day in just a few months and we're all for anything that feels more like fun than exercise.
Again, there are several game franchise out there which rely on game pads, but Dance Dance Revolution (simply referred to as DDR) by Konami is the oldest and considered best. Their latest release for the Wii, Hottest Part 2 (be sure to get the version bundled with the actual pad, which plugs into your console) is in our view the best. Our reviewers in their 30s weren't familiar with many of the euroclub, techno heavy songs, but they were fun nonetheless, and the strong beats of this kind of music really mesh with the moves for a fun workout. One reviewer found it quite difficult to get used to the game, and wasn't comfortable matching the moves until after about a dozen songs, so it does require a bit of patience at first.
Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Part 2 comes with 25 different tracks, and even has a Workout Mode which will track calories burned (the producers know very well that many people regard this as a workout game.) Of course, you can also play it as a game, customizing your dance character, playing in a tournament where you progress up through various sized arenas and different moves. It really doesn't shine as a game, but it does stand out as a non-traditional, but very fun way to exercise.
Prices: The Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party 2 Bundle retails for £49, but you can get it much cheaper on Amazon for around £37.