Kinect PlayFit, a fitness-based Xbox LIVE feature announced by Microsoft some time ago, has officially launched today, with details of the service being announced by Larry Hryb, otherwise known as Major Nelson.

At this point in time, it’s only available to those residing in the United States, and is absolutely free to download. Those outside America looking to get their backsides into gear with PlayFit will be pleased to know that it will be arriving later this week. Usually, particularly with Google services, consumers in the US receive new releases far sooner than those across the globe, so it’s good to see the software maker is keeping PlayFit in sync with all of its Xbox LIVE customers.

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PlayFit utilizes the popular Kinect peripheral to offer an impressive fitness dashboard, which in turn keeps a tally of how many calories you burn as you play some of your favorite Kinect-enabled titles, including Dance Central 2, Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012, and Kinect Star Wars.

With the Wii Fit having found huge success among consumers looking to track and burn excess timber, Kinect PlayFit could prove to be another big hit, and in allowing users to view personal stats, check leader boards and earn credit for calories burned, it adds a fun competition element whilst also keeping people dedicated to exercising while having as much fun as they can.

The Gamerscore is one of the most important features for many Xbox LIVE users, so the ability to earn Kinect PlayFit achievements, improve Gamerscore and gather Avatar awards will likely entice those who may otherwise prefer to sit still and play something passive.

It’s the very first app tracking fitness on a console, and one suspects it’ll be the competitive aspect that keeps users interested as much as anything else. As Hryb noted on his famed blog, three quarters of people asked the question believe video games should include at least encourage gamers to become more active, if not necessarily including some element of physical activity.

Gamers have gotten a bad name over the years for being lazy, isolated, vegetative specimen who snack on junk food and wash only when they themselves cannot put up with their own insufferable odor. Kinect PlayFit certainly hopes to encourage gamers to move around a little more, and personally, I believe it could be as big a success story as the Kinect itself, which is, by the way, the fastest-selling gadget of all time.

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