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Active Video Gaming Increases Energy Expenditure and Activity in Children: Study

Update Date: Sep 25, 2012 07:29 AM EDT

Who says playing a lot of video games makes children inactive and obese? Well, while this might have been true up until a few years ago, the introduction of Microsoft's Xbox and its new Kinect feature are proving it otherwise.

A new study suggests that active video game play like dancing and boxing actually helps children increase their physical activity unlike sedentary video game play.

Active video games increases a child's heart rate, oxygen uptake and energy expenditure. The researchers concluded the findings after studying 18 school children in England.

Increased video game play has been linked to lower activity and obesity. But it is not so when it comes to active video game play and according to study background, active video game play encourages more movement and could help children increase their physical activity levels.

The study conducted Stephen R. Smallwood, M.Sc., and colleagues from the University of Chester, England, aimed at examining the physiologic responses and energy expenditure of active video gaming using a video game with a webcam-style sensor device and software technology that allows the player to interact directly without the need for a game controller, Medical Xpress reported.

The participants of the study included 10 boys and eight girls aged between 11 and 15 years.

"Significant increases were observed in heart rate, VO2 [oxygen uptake] and energy expenditure during all gaming conditions compared with both rest and sedentary game play," the authors commented.

When compared to traditional video gaming, it was found that the games, Dance Central and Kinect Sports Boxing, increased energy expenditure by 150 percent and 263 percent, respectively, above resting values.

"Although it is unlikely that active video game play can single-handedly provide the recommended amount of physical activity for children or expend the number of calories required to prevent or reverse the obesity epidemic, it appears from the results of this study that Kinect active game play can contribute to children's physical activity levels and energy expenditure, at least in the short term," the authors conclude.

The study was published by Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

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