New study recommends using active videogaming ('exergaming') to improve children's health

Levels of physical inactivity and obesity are very high in children, with fewer than 50% of primary school-aged boys and fewer than 28% of girls meeting the minimum levels of physical activity required to maintain health. Exergaming, using active console video games that track player movement to control the game (e.g., Xbox-Kinect, Wii), has become popular, and may provide an alternative form of exercise to counteract sedentary behaviors. In a study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers studied the effects of exergaming on children.

Dr. Louise Naylor and researchers from The University of Western Australia, Liverpool John Moores University, and Swansea University evaluated 15 children, 9-11 years of age, who participated in 15 minutes each of exergaming (Kinect Sports – 200m Hurdles), low intensity exergaming (Kinect Sports – Ten Pin Bowling), and a graded (treadmill). The researchers measured energy expenditure. They also measured the vascular response to each activity using flow-mediated dilation (FMD), which is a validated measure of vascular function and health in children.

They found that high intensity exergaming elicited an energy expenditure equivalent to moderate ; low intensity exergaming resulted in an energy expenditure equivalent to low intensity exercise. Additionally, although the low intensity exergaming did not have an impact on FMD, high intensity exergaming significantly decreased FMD, suggesting that the latter may improve vascular health in children. High intensity exergaming also increased heart rate and the amount of energy burned. Participants reported similar enjoyment levels with both intensities of exergaming, which indicates that children may be equally likely to continue playing the high intensity games.

According to Dr. Naylor, "Higher intensity exergaming may be a good form of activity for children to use to gain long-term and sustained health benefits." These findings also support the growing notion that high intensity activity is beneficial for children's health, and high intensity exergaming should be considered a means of encouraging children to become more active.

More information: "The Effect of Exergaming on Vascular Function in Children," by Andrew Mills, BSc, Michael Rosenberg, PhD, Gareth Stratton, PhD, Howard H. Carter, BSc, Angela L. Spence, BSc, Christopher JA Pugh, PhD, Daniel J. Green, PhD, and Louise H. Naylor, PhD, appears in The Journal of Pediatrics, DOI 10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.03.076

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Want kids to eat better? Get them cooking

16 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Getting kids involved in the kitchen, through cooking classes or at home, may make them more likely to choose healthy foods, according to a recent review.

Life-saving promise in simple steps

21 hours ago

The debate over the best time to clamp a baby's umbilical cord has been around forever. In about 350 BCE, Aristotle, reputedly the world's first genuine scientist, advocated delaying clamping until placenta ...

PCV13 recommended for 6- to 18-year-olds at high risk

Nov 26, 2014

(HealthDay)—Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine 13 (PCV13) should be administered to certain children aged 6 through 18 years who are at high risk of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD), according to a policy ...

Brain abnormality found in group of SIDS cases

Nov 25, 2014

More than 40 percent of infants in a group who died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) were found to have an abnormality in a key part of the brain, researchers report. The abnormality affects the hippocampus, ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.