Active video games offer children no “public health benefit” says study
The increase in motion-controlled video games that came with the current generation of consoles has transformed the way many of us play. Some would say that we’re now more active, healthy gamers as a result. But not everyone feels the same. A study has revealed that active games are no more healthy than inactive games. Are virtual exercisers wasting their time?
In an attempt to discover the health benefits of playing such games researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston gathered two groups of children, and kitted them with special belts to monitor their physical activity during a 12-week activity.
One group was given inactive games, while the other was given exercise-related titles such as Nintendo’s Wii Fit Plus and EA’s EA Sports Active. As encouragement the children were promised a free Nintendo Wii. It made little difference.
The results of the study claim: “There was no evidence that children receiving the active video games were more active in general, or at anytime, than children receiving the inactive video games.
“These results provide no reason to believe that simply acquiring an active video game under naturalistic circumstances provides a public health benefit to children.”
Researcher Tom Baranowski told Reuters: “We expected that playing the video games would in fact lead to a substantial increase in physical activity in the children. Frankly we were shocked by the complete lack of difference.”
However Jacob Barkley, an exercise scientist from Kent State University does believe that over the course of a year, playing active games could be more beneficial in the long term, that physical activity as an alternative to being active will always have a positive impact on health.
“Maybe the Wii isn’t going to increase physical activity a whole heck of a lot,” Barkley told Reuters Health. “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.” What do we reckon, gadget fans? Do you disagree? Do you know anyone who’s health has benefited from playing such games? Let us know.