Sunday, November 30, 2008

APHA gets into exergaming!

Nov. 30, 2008 - Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving holiday! As I was preparing my powerpoint for the last conference I'm speaking at this year (Medical Fitness Assoc. in TX on Dec. 5), I realized I didn't update my blog from the last conference I attended, the American Public Health Assoc. down in San Diego at the end of October, so here it is!

After 16 years of having my masters and doctorate in public health, this is the FIRST time for me to attend my profession's assoc. conference, mainly because I do more clinical work and attend other conferences that deal with clinical health and promotion and of course, exergaming--like American College of Sports Medicine, Healthy People, Games for Health, etc. APHA tended to be more focused on policies and public health, such as sanitation issues, epidemiology, population-based public health, etc

However, I noticed a trend towards lifestyle-related diseases and interventions, enough so that I finally joined the APHA and since this year's conference was just a couple of hours away, I decided to go and check out how receptive they would be to exergaming.

What I found was that the APHA is ripe for games for health and exergaming! This is a picture of a session put on by the newly formed Special Interest Group (SIG) Health & Technology. Guess what the topic was? Games for Health! So even though it was in one of the surrounding hotels and not at the main convention center, it was well attended. They are very interested in having more games for health, exergaming, etc. sessions next year, so I joined this SIG to stay in touch with them.

At another session, I heard about the new physical activity guidelines that just came out from the DHHS in Oct. This is the first time our federal government has issued official guidelines for physical activity. I'm here with Rear Admiral Penelope Royall, who was key in pushing this through the DHHS for the last couple of years. I introduced her to the idea of exergaming, which she seemed very interested in.
Another speaking on this session's panel was Toni Yancey, MD, from UCLA. She is a very dyanmic speaker, and I thanked her afterwards for mentioning exergaming in her talk! We bump into each other at various obesity conferences here in CA so she knows all about exergaming and XRtainment Zone. ;-)
If you're in one of Dr. Toni's sessions, you don't sit the whole time! She gets the whole room up and moving! Interestingly, a lady I was sitting next to wanted a copy of this shot, and we exchanged contact info. Turns out she is involved with the formation of a new SIG for Physical Acitivty! (Imagine that APHA doesn't have this yet, given the impact exercise can have on public health). We got to talking about games for health and exergaming, and I told her I would definitely be interested in joining the PA SIG as well.
A special thanks to Beth & Games for Health for helping to sponsor my trip there. Since Beth was manning the booth all by herself (they, too, were wanting to test the waters there for games for health), she asked me if I would check out the sessions, network, etc. so I was happy to help out in this capacity.
There were other contacts made, and quite a few sessions on physical activity, obesity, etc. There was even a poster on Second Life and AIDS prevention. Overall, it seems that the APHA community is ripe for games for health and exergaming, so I look forward to seeing us represented there in the conferences to come!