Video games often get a bad rap when it comes to the lack of physical activity in most children’s lives. In fact, only one in three children are physically active every day. With children spending more than seven hours a day in front of a screen, it can be a challenge for busy families to incorporate physical exercise into their children’s lives.
New studies show that video games have the potential to become a source of moderate to intense physical activity. A University of Tennessee study included children ages five-eight years old who were monitored while playing controller-free games available on the Xbox 360 Kinect. Their activity scores while paying these video games were then compared to kids engaged in outdoor free-style play.
Their study found that in some instances, activity was more rigorous with the active video games than outside play. In general, exertion between the two activities was relatively equal. In short, active video games may be an easy way to get your child to exercise without knowing it.
Three interactive video game systems are currently on the market: Xbox 360 Kinect, Wii and PlayStation Move. All three systems offer fun, interactive games. Many of them are marked as “fitness games” making it easy for parents to gauge the activity level required to play. Popular fitness games include dancing games like Dance, Dance Revolution and fighting games such as The Fight: Lights Out for PlayStation.
As childhood obesity continues to be a growing problem in the United States, researchers hope parents will be open to adapting new approaches to keep their children physically active and healthy.