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Active Video Games Help Children Burn Calories

September 9, 2008

According to a new study, children who play physically active video games use energy at levels that can help them from becoming overweight and increase their heart health.

A study conducted by Robin R. Mellecker and Alison M. McManus of the Institute for Human Performance at the University of Hong Kong, showed that children burn nearly four times as many calories playing physically active videos than playing seated video games.

The observations are important because video games, and electronic entertainment are not going away, said Dr. Russell R. Pate of the University of South Carolina.

“If we want to promote physical activity in the context of contemporary society, we will have to fight fire with fire. Physically active video gaming may be part of the antidote to the poisonous growth of sedentary entertainment,” Pate said.

During the study, Mellecker and McManus measured the heart rate and energy use of 18 children who were all about 9 and a half years old.

The children would have a 25-minute gaming session where they would rest for 5 minutes, play a seated computer bowling game and active bowling game for 5 minutes each, and would rest for 5 minutes between active video games.

The children burned 39 percent more calories per minute playing the seated game than resting.  The children burned 98 percent more during the active bowling game, and 451 more during the action/running game.

The children’s heart rate was 20 beats per minute higher than resting for the active bowling game, and was 79 beats per minute higher in the action/running game.

“The next step is to test whether active gaming interventions can provide sustainable increases in childhood physical activity,” said Mellecker and McManus.

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