Do active video exercise games increase help to boost physical fitness in children? Is WiiFit effective in improving health and fitness in children? Surprisingly, current research says “No.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children and adolescents should get at least one hour of physical activity each day.
What Exactly Was the Research Study?
Previous research on the effectiveness of active video games, has suggested that active video games lead to an increases in children’s physical activity.
However, in a recent study at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, researchers gave 78 children between ages 9 and 12 Wii game consoles and monitored them for 12 weeks. The kids were split into groups in which they received either two “active” video games – including “Wii Fit Plus” and “Dance Dance Revolution – Hottest Party 3” – or two inactive games, such as “Mario Kart Wii” or “Madden NFL 2010.”
What Can Be Concluded From the Research?
The study was published in February 2012 issue of Pediatrics magazine. The conclusion by the researchers was “These results provide no reason to believe that simply acquiring an active video game under naturalistic circumstances provides a public health benefit to children.”
“Frankly, we were shocked by the complete lack of difference,” said Dr. Tom Baranowski, professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, the lead researcher and author of the study.
Dr. Jacob Barkley, who was not involved in the study but who is an exercise scientist from Kent State University in Ohio, told Reuters, “Maybe the Wii isn’t going to increase physical activity a whole heck of a lot, but it might increase caloric expenditure a little bit more than a traditional sedentary video game, and if you do that on a daily basis that could have a cumulative effect that might be beneficial.”
Merely purchasing the Wii active games and allowing children to choose to do them with no monitored exercise plan or schedule, will not most likely provide the exercise needed to see dramatic improvements in health.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend 60 minutes of physical aerobic activity daily for children ages 6-17 (there are no specifications for those five and under).
The majority of the time spent exercising should be either moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, and should include vigorous-intensity physical activity at least three days a week. Children and adolescents should include muscle- and bone-strengthening physical activity at least three days of the week.
According to the Physical Activity Guidelines, adults should get at least two and a half hours (150 minutes) each week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, and thirty minutes of exercise every day. This type of moderate-intensity aerobic activity should be at least 10 minutes at a time. Intervals shorter than this do not have the same health benefits. Adults should also do strengthening activities, like push-ups, sit-ups and lifting weights, at least two days a week.
This article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.
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