The craze of ‘exergaming’, playing video games that provide physical exercise, is taking the world by storm. Parents are questioning if these games are actually helping kids stay fit and so are we. Here are two sides of the argument:
ARGUMENT FOR VIDEO GAME EXERCISE
In the world of exergaming, not all products are created equal. There is difference in the intensity of workout a child will get from using video games like Wii Fit, Your Shape, or Dance Dance Revolution. One school is incorporating DDR into their physical education classes:
Studies have been conducted to test the workout experience of exergames. Research suggests when children participate in exergames, they are more engaged and more likely to continue with a workout regimen because they find it enjoyable.
Research shows a third of the activities available for the Wii help users reach a level of moderate intensity exercise which is recommended by the government to keep fit and healthy. Also, the Wii Fit has a built-in exercise progression that encourages the user to do more repetitions and more challenging exercises.
While some debate whether children should be encouraged to get their daily dose of physical activity from these games, there is no doubt that moving is always better than not moving.
ARGUMENT AGAINST VIDEO GAME EXERCISE
Research conducted by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) shows exergames are not vigorous enough to maintain or improve cardiorespiratory endurance necessary for daily fitness. ACE also released a study that compares the calorie expenditure of Wii sports games to their real life counterparts. For instance, Wii golf burns about 3 to 3½ calories per minute whereas a real game of golf burns 6 to 6 ½ calories per minute. Experts argue exergames are a very mild workout at best.
Another concern with exergames is the frequency of use. To reap any real benefit, these games must be played routinely. Fitness experts worry that exergames are an exercise fad that will soon disappear.
Staying active is more than just moving around. Consider the benefits of fresh air and sunlight that a child would be missing by staying indoors. Exergames are not substitutes for traditional forms of exercise. Instead, they should be used as an additional tool to enhance a child’s overall health.
For more information, check out these additional articles: Forbes: “The Truth about Wii Fit and Weight Loss” MedicineNet: “Can You Really Get Fit with Wii Exercise Games?” The Telegraph: “Wii Virtual Exercise as Good as the Real Thing” The University of Mississippi: “Wii Fit May Not Help Families Get Fit” USA Today: “Your Health: Can Games like ‘Wii Fit’ Really Work It?”
Join us next time for our discussion on childhood obesity.