Active Video Games Have Exercise-Like Effects in Kids: Study

Players' heart rates rose and they used more energy than with sedentary games

MONDAY, Sept. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescents who play active video games increase their heart rate, use more oxygen and expend more energy, according to a small new study.

Low levels of physical activity are associated with obesity in children. Compared to video games that youngsters can play while sitting on the couch, active video games encourage movement and could help children increase their physical activity levels, according to researchers Stephen Smallwood and colleagues at the University of Chester, in England.

Their study included 10 boys and eight girls, aged 11 to 15, who played two active video games that use a webcam-style sensor device and software technology to detect players' body movement during game play.

The games, "Dance Central" and "Kinect Sports: Boxing," increased the children's energy expenditure by 150 percent and 263 percent, respectively, above resting values. Energy expenditure while playing the active games was 103 percent and 194 percent higher, respectively, than playing traditional video games.

The active games also led to significant increases in heart rate and oxygen uptake, in the study published online Sept. 24 in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

"Although it is unlikely that active video game play can single-handedly provide the recommended amount of physical activity for children or expend the number of calories required to prevent or reverse the obesity epidemic, it appears from the results of this study that 'Kinect' active game play can contribute to children's physical activity levels and energy expenditure, at least in the short term," the researchers concluded in a journal news release.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about children and exercise.

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