Game Makers Push Fitness And Exercise Products To Healthy Crowd
It depends on the product and the level of intensity applied, research shows. (Some crafty kids have mastered the art of playing Wii Sports with a minimal flick of the wrist.)
A recent study of 39 middle school children by the University of Massachusetts Boston, for example, found that some interactive video games “compared favorably with walking on a treadmill at three miles per hour.”
The study, which tested six commercial and consumer products, (Wii Fit Boxing, Jackie Chan Alley Run by Xavix, Cybex Trazer Goalie Wars, Lightspace Bug Invasion, Sportwall, and Dance Dance Revolution) , found that several of the games surpassed treadmill walking in calories burned.
The Sportwall by XerGames, for example, which allows large groups to train, dance and activate targets on a single screen, had the highest metabolic equivalent task value, or MET, which measures how much oxygen the body uses during a physical activity. At 7.1, it came in well ahead of the 4.9 MET value for walking on the treadmill at 3 miles per hour.
The Nintendo Wii Boxing game was the only game to score lower than treadmill walking, while DDR scored slightly higher.
“I think there is promise in this area; kids will always want to play and they will always want a new toy,” says Ann Maloney, a research at the Maine Medical Center, which is working on an exergaming project targeted at childhood obesity under a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for improving healthcare. “The trick is to figure out the when, where, who, why and side effects from this. What is the dose needed? How long to take the treatment? I think we are moving forward on this, which is good news for a lot of kids.”
Apart from the health benefits of exergames, Kasanders says such technology is also helping players develop more self-confidence.
“The goal is to teach lifelong lessons in fitness and this is one way to capture those kids and start changing their behavior,” he says. “It’s the gamer kids you always hear about who sit on the couch and are not into sports. Those kids can now compete with their peers who are athletes and they can probably do as good or better at wall games than them, which levels the playing field. It helps them to start feeling better about themselves."