Hey couch potatoes! It's time to burn the fat from your very own living room. It turns out that staring at a screen can actually help you with weight maintenance - at least in some cases. While in the past, video games have typically been associated with unhealthy behavior, now there's virtual fitness or "exergames:" the combination of physical exercise and stimulation of video games.

Researchers from the University of Kansas Medical Center took 20 overweight or obese people and put them in a three month weight-loss program where they either directly met with nutritionists at a clinic or virtually met them in Second Life; a virtual world where people act as avatars to interact with each other. Once the three month program ended, the participants received six months of weight maintenance training, either face-to-face or remotely through a headset. Gamers who participated in the virtual program lost a significant amount of weight compared to their counterparts.

"For weight loss, if you do the program as we suggest, then you are successful," says Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., professor and chair of the University of Kansas Medical Center's Department of Dietetics and Nutrition.

While 36 percent of adults who are 18 years of age and older reported to have no leisure-time physical activity according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from the Healthy People 2010 Database, the average time spent on watching television and playing video/computer games was 10 hours and 45 minutes among young adults says a Kaiser Family and Foundation study.

The recommended amount of physical activity for children is 60 minutes per day while for adults its 150 minutes of moderate intense aerobic activity reports the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. With the technological advancement of video game consoles on the rise, it's time to break a sweat and exercise your way into the cultural phenomenon of "exergames."

For those of you who are oblivious to the generation of virtual fitness, Consumer Reports has reviewed the top five most popular "exergames" by how well they met the following criteria:

  • visual elements
  • fun factor
  • accuracy of movement tracking
  • session sequencing
  • conditioning elements
  • skill-based elements

The list below was created to educate and inform those who are not "exergame" savvy or who want to research further this innovative form of fitness.

Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013

Screenshot: Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013

Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013 is available for the Wii U console and was dubbed easy-to-use for first-time "exergamers." The workouts are customizable to the gamer's ability with multiplayer workouts to encourage a healthy lifestyle among your circle of friends.

Pro: The Fitness Pal feature acts as your personal trainer with customized recommendations for healthy meals and recipes based on the set fitness goal you plan to attain.

Con: The accuracy of the Wii remote is faulty when tracking your movements.

$50; ESRB rating: Everyone 10+

Zumba Fitness

Screenshot: Zumba Fitness

Zumba Fitness is available for Wii and Xbox 360. Its super intense dance game is primarily focuses on cardiovascular fitness. You can learn how to dance and get a good workout with three levels of fitness: preset workout that lasts 20 minutes, mid workout that lasts 45 minutes, or a full-length workout that lasts 60 minutes. The option to create your own class is available too for those that want their Zumba workout to reflect their personality.

Pro: It offers visual stimulation that allows you to transcend from your living room to different venues once you surpass levels of the game.

Con: The game does not offer a warm-up or a breather for beginners who have two left feet.

$40; ESRB rating: Everyone 10+

Nike + Kinect Training

Screenshot: Nike + Kinect Training

Nike + Kinect Training, available for Xbox 360, is a rigorous "exergame" for those who want a straight forward show-no-mercy workout. Prior to receiving a customized training program, your fitness level is evaluated to see what areas need more concentration. Options of strength building, toning, and weight loss are available for selection as a fitness goal.

Pro: Gamers can watch their avatar while they exercise to keep track of their form.

Con: Feedback on your workouts that are displayed on the screen which creates a conflict when exercises require you to adjust your body facing opposite the screen.

$40; ESRB rating: Everyone

Just Dance 4

Screenshot: Just Dance 4

Just Dance 4 is available for PlayStation 3, Wii, Wii U, and Xbox 360. The game lets you jam to pop music tracks while you do choreographed dances - the goal is to mimic the virtual dancers on screen. This adrenaline-pumping interactive game will have you moving all the bones in your body while you have fun. The game features 48 songs from popular artists in music today.

Pro: You can simultaneously see the calories you have burned while you dance.

Con: The workout never gets that intense.

$40; ESRB rating: Everyone 10+

UFC Personal Trainer

Screenshot: UFC Personal Trainer

UFC Personal Trainer is available for PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360. It's based on the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) - you basically pretend like you are going through a fitness regime to prepare you for a UFC fight. A fitness test of sit-ups, push-ups, and jumping jacks are administered but reviewers have said the game remains vague on whether it customizes the workout programs to your fitness level.

Pro: Gamers can select a 30 or 60 day workout plan based on the three factors of strength building, weight loss and endurance.

Con: Reviewers find the exercises to be low-intensity with little-to-no feedback on your body movements.

$30; ESRB rating: Everyone

Whether you're a video game enthusiast or a fitness guru, these top-rated "exergames" by Consumer Reports will give you a new definition to the conventional idea of a workout. If you are looking to buy a new console, the console with the best motion tracking, according to Consumer Reports' reviewers was the Xbox. Click here to read Consumer Reports in-depth reviews.