Does Exergaming Achieve the Same Levels of Fitness Intensity as Unstructured Activity?

Courtney A. Graham, Rachel M. Perron, Jamie R. Feldman, Eric E. Hall*, Elon University, Elon, NC

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Abstract Exercise games were developed by video game designers to combat sedentary behavior. The purpose of this study was to explore the intensity levels of exergaming in comparison to an unstructured physical activity program. Sixteen female participants (Mean age=9.4 ± 1.0 years) spent twenty minutes in unstructured physical activity, monitored by a mentor, and twenty minutes playing exercise games on the Nintendo Wii™. Based on our findings, it can be concluded that only the WiiFit exergame can achieve intensity levels comparable to unstructured activity.

IntroductionThe nationwide prevalence of obesity in all age groups has risen drastically over the past decades and is often attributed to the dramatic increase in sedentary behaviors as a result of the technology boom (Wang & Beydoun, 2007). It has been proposed that childhood and adolescence is the most critical period for the development of obesity, and such a proposition has made the prevention of obesity in children a public health priority (Wang & Lobstein, 2006). It was noted that children’s play has moved from the streets and playgrounds to the couches and television screens. Specifically, recent studies showed that children spend two to five hours per day in front of television and/or computer screens (Vandewater, Bickham, & Lee, 2010). In fact, Anderson, Economos, and Must (2008) found that 61.5 percent of children in a nationally representative survey had not engaged in any organized physical activity outside of school in the previous 7 days, and 23 percent had not engaged in any physical activity at all.

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