Self-conscious teens benefit more from games like Wii: study
A new study published on Monday finds that exergames such as Wii may actually play a beneficial role in getting teens fit, especially self-conscious teens who struggle with their weight.
Researchers from the University of Montreal surveyed some 1,209 teenagers between the ages of 14 and 19 and their parents about their family background and video game habits.
"Teenage exergamers, people who play video games that require physical activity, are most likely females who are stressed about their weight," said study author Jennifer O'Loughlin. "On average they play two 50-minute sessions per week." Additionally, 73% of exergamers played at a moderate or vigorous intensity, which the researchers noted could help them achieve recommendations for physical activity.
The current recommendation for adolescents and teens according to the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day (this does not need to be continuous and can include varied types of activities).
The most popular games played among kids at home were Wii Sports (68% of exergamers), Dance Dance Revolution (40%), Wii Fit Yoga (34%), and Punch-Out!! (boxing; 15%).
The researchers also noted that girls, especially those with weight issues, are more likely to benefit from exergames, since boys are more likely to play video games in general. "Girls might be uncomfortable exercising at school because they feel judged and these games could be providing an alternative," O'Loughlin said. "On the other hand, there could be something about the kind of social interaction that exergaming provides that appeals to them." The findings were published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
A study published last year in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that exergames offer a moderate to vigorous workout and can bolster energy expenditure by four to eight times compared to, say, sitting on the couch watching TV.
A prior study published in the British Medical Journal reveals that kids burn more energy when playing interactive fitness games compared to sitting still, but not as much energy as playing the sport itself. Plus they reported that the energy used when playing active video games was not of a high enough intensity to contribute towards the recommended daily amount of exercise in children.