Playing Wii is fun...and good for you!

kids playing wii exercise good for you

Ever wonder if video games like Wii boxing actually have some health benefits?  A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that playing active video games may be similar to moderate-intensity walking. 

Dr. Graf and colleagues examined energy expenditure in 23 children (14 boys and 9 girls) between the ages of 10 to 13 years.  Kids watched 20-minutes of cartoons while lying down before playing Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) (on visit 1) and Wii bowling and boxing games (on visit 2) for 30 minutes followed by 10-15 minutes of resting.  In addition, after the resting period during visit 2, children walked on a treadmill while watching cartoons for 18 minutes.  The researchers measured energy expenditure, blood pressure, and arterial elasticity.

Findings showed that energy expenditure, heart rate, and ventilatory responses were similar to or greater when children engaged in Wii boxing or DDR compared to moderate-intensity walking (4.2-5.7 km/hour).  Energy expenditure three times greater during these activities than during resting.  Interestingly, boys expended more energy during DDR and Wii bowling than girls (no differences were found during Wii boxing, rest, or walking), which the authors speculate may reflect differences in motivation or exercise economy.

Although video games should never replace real outdoor and indoor physical exercise and activity (including sports or other recreational activities), occasionally playing these active video games can be good for you. However, keep in mind that not all active video games are the same: energy expenditure during Wii boxing was 50% greater than during Wii bowling.

Scientific Resources:

Graf, D.L., Pratt, L.V., Hester, C.N., & Short, K.R. (2009). Playing active video games increases energy expenditure in children. Pediatrics, 124, 534-540.

Tags: science , activity
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