Exer-games as healthy as a walk, say scientists

Official: Chubby kids can moonwalk and boogie themselves thin
Official: Chubby kids can moonwalk and boogie themselves thin

Playing an energetic Wii game or Dance Dance Revolution is as good as taking outdoor exercise, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center have found that playing active video games can be as effective for children as a good walk.

"If kids play them as designed and stay engaged, they can burn several calories per hour above their sedentary level," said lead researcher Dr Kevin Short.

More gaming, fewer overweight kids?

The scientists measured the heart rate, energy expenditure and (self-reported) exertion in children between 10 and 13 while they watched television, played active video games and walked on the treadmill at three different speeds.

Compared to watching television, the calories burned while gaming or walking increased by up to three times. Similar high rates of energy expenditure, heart rate and perceived exertion were seen from playing Wii Boxing, Dance Dance Revolution (level 2) or from walking at 3.5 mph.

Wii Bowling and beginner level Dance Dance revolution were less energetic, creating just a two-fold increase in energy expenditure compared to watching telly.

However, warned Short, ""These exer-games are no substitute for 'real' sports activities, but we view any increase in energy expenditure as a good thing, especially in our overly sedentary society."