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Active video games as good as moderately intense exercise

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2009 finds that playing active video games is as good as any moderately intense exercise. Active Wii sports™ video games and some Wii fit™ games require enough energy expenditure to fight obesity and heart disease.

Motohiko Miyachi, Ph.D., lead author of the study and Project Leader of Project for Physical Activity in the Health Promotion and Exercise Program at the National Institute of Health and Nutrition in Tokyo, Japan explains, “Energy expenditure is the most important information to measure the effect of video games.” Energy expenditure is calculated using the Metabolic Equivalent Task (MET) method. Among the video games studied, most required enough MET expenditure to make a difference in health.

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Among the video games studied, boxing was the best for expending energy. Other Wii sports™ worth exploring to get moderate exercise include golf, tennis, bowling and baseball.

Yoga and balance exercises were found to be were less intense, but useful to improving flexibility, balance, and reducing fall risk. As far as the most difficult video exercise – it was the single arm stand that requires lying down and standing up – the exercise required the highest energy expenditure at 5.6 METS.

Playing the right kind of video games can lead to better health. Active, rather than sedentary video games could help fight heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, and were found to be rank well for moderately intense exercise in a study of 25 to 44 years old.