KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Kids may spend too much time playing video games, but a new study by the University of Tennessee found that active video games may actually be a source of moderate or intense physical activity.
The study, published in the Games for Health Journal measured activity in children five to eight years old. During a 3-week period, each child engaged in one active video gaming session and one unstructured outdoor playtime. Each session lasted 20 minutes.
The active video game took place with a 40-inch television and the Xbox 360 Kinect, a controller-free gaming system that incorporates the whole body in the game through motion sensors and skeletal tracking. The outdoor play session took place on a playground with two grassy areas, a small paved area, a climbing tree, hula hoops, playground equipment and an assortment of balls. Children were allowed to participate in any type of activity.
The children were given accelerometers to wear on their hip and on each wrist. Trained observers used the Children’s Activity Rating Scale to record activity levels and estimated energy expenditure.
Researchers found a significant difference between active video gaming and the outdoor play session. Video gaming had a great percentage of moderate to vigorous intensity than unstructured outdoor play.
“Our study shows video games which wholly engage a child’s body can be a source of physical activity,” said Hollie Raynor, director of UT’s Healthy Eating and Activity Laboratory and associate professor of nutrition. “Previous studies investigating active video games had not investigated the energy expenditure of these games as compared to unstructured outdoor play.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity each day.