Dr. Marla Shapiro: Do 'active' video games count as exercise?
Published Tuesday, September 25, 2012 8:57AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, November 12, 2012 12:53PM EST
So you all get tired of the relentless stats that tell us that we have an overweight and obesity crisis at hand. Too much in, too little out means excess calories and not enough energy expenditure.
The range of physical activity for kids is set at 60 minutes a day but we all know that kids fall well below that because of an increase in sedentary behaviours: TV, computers and video gaming. Research informs us that kids play up to 2 hours a day of video games.
But with the advent of video games that get the viewer up and moving, could that substitute for physical activity?
Some of these games do in fact increase movement, such as Dance Dance Revolution and Nintendo Wii games, to name just a few. A new study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine looks at energy expenditure from different games. Is it possible that these movement oriented games could help in fitness?
The study found that the more movement-oriented games versus sedentary games saw increased heart rates of 118 to 131 beats per minute. Mean oxygen consumption increased as well and was 191% higher than at rest and 110% higher than sedentary gaming.Calorie usage also went up between 103% and 194% depending on the game.
Whether the increases in these parameters are adequate for increasing cardiovascular fitness remains debatable. The heart rate increases seen are in line with the range of 55% to 65% for increasing cardiovascular fitness, but ranges of 80% are really needed to improve cardiovascular fitness.
Let's look at sporting activities with comparable physical activity. (METS stands for metabolic equivalents):
- Ballroom dancing
- Bowling Sailing
- Stationary cycling
- Walking 3.2 km/hr
- Dance Central
- Table tennis
- Walking 4,8km/ hour
- Water aerobics
- Kinect Sports Boxing
Although the activity levels and energy expenditures in active gaming are lower than traditional sports, active video gaming could fill a gap. Outdoor activities will always get my vote before any active gaming, but sustained active gaming may be an additional tool in the war on overweight and obesity.