Exergames Good Source Of Light Physical Activity
August 9, 2012

Exergames Good Source Of Light Physical Activity

Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

Researchers from Michigan State University (MSU) recently announced that active video games (AVGs), those inspired by popular devices such as Kinect, Move and Wii, could help increase the physical activity of participants.

The study, recently published in the journal Health Education and Behavior, consisted of published research on games. The researchers found that they provided “light-to-moderate” intensity physical activity. AVGs, otherwise known as “Exergames,” aren´t a perfect solution and can´t beat “real-life exercise.”

But for people "not engaging in real-life exercise, this may be a good step" in that direction, explained Wei Peng, an assistant professor of telecommunication, information studies, and media at MSU, in a prepared statement. “Eventually the goal is to help them get somewhat active and maybe move to real-life exercise.”

The researchers looked at total of 41 AVG studies, and only three showed that the games were effective in boosting physical activity.

“Some people are very enthusiastic about exergames,” noted Peng in the statement. “They think this will be the perfect solution to solve the problem of sedentary behavior. But it´s not that easy.”

The investigators studied how different types of AVGs have different hardware. Some of the AVGs target the upper body, such as those played on the Wii console. Other targets the lower body, like games that include a dance pad or a balance board. Other AVGs combine exercises that use both the upper and lower bodies.

According to MSU, it´s recommended that the typical adult practice 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise on a daily basis. However, many of the games only provided light activity. Peng believed that they didn´t meet the recommended guidelines, but believes that certain populations only need light-to-moderate activity to get by.

“The games do have the potential to be useful,” remarked Peng in the statement. “Especially for populations that are more suitable to light-to-moderate activity — seniors, for example.”

In particular, groups like senior citizens or patients in rehabilitation can utilize exergames or combine these games in activities for more structured exercise programs.

"Just giving the games to people may not be a good approach," Peng said. "They may not use it or use it effectively. It's better if used in a structured program where there are more people participating."

The review concluded with information regarding AVGs on other platforms, such as mobile devices and tablet computers.

“Additionally, mobile smart phones, tablet computers, and other portable gaming devices are emerging as possible AVG platforms. Besides their portability, these plat- forms also offer functions such as geospatial location tracking, pedometers, location-based knowledge presentation, and many other technologically sophisticated features that will make AVGs increasingly accessible and easily incorporated into daily life,” commented the authors in the paper.

In moving forward, the scientists believe that more research needs to be done to better understand the long-term effects of using AVGs and also what exercise tools can be developed to increase healthy activity.

“As AVGs are becoming more popular, additional research is needed to determine how to capitalize on the potential of AVGs to increase physical activity,” wrote the authors in the report.

The study was supported with finding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation´s Pioneer Portfolio.