University of Chester's video game fitness findings


Staff reporter

SOME video gaming may burn enough calories to qualify as exercise for schoolchildren, believe scientists at the University of Chester.

The finding was made in a study of the physical expenditure and physiological responses of children who take part in active gaming, using the Kinect for the Microsoft Xbox 360.

It was conducted by Stephen Smallwood, who studied the MSc in weight management, and was supervised by Mike Morris, senior lecturer in exercise and nutrition science.

It compared a traditional sedentary video game with two Kinect active games – Dance Central and Kinect Sports Boxing.

A group of 18 children, aged between 11 and 15, played each game for 15 minutes, after which their heart rate, oxygen uptake and energy were measured using a metabolic analyser.

The results showed dance and boxing games increased calorie-burning by 150 per cent and 263 per cent, respectively,  above resting values. They were also 103 per cent and 194 per cent higher than the traditional video game, Project Gotham Racing 4.

This equates to burning up to 172 extra calories per hour compared with when they were sitting and playing the racing game.

Dance Central also raised the children’s heart rate to an average 118 beats per minute and Kinect Sports Boxing raised it to 131 beats per minutes which was more than 50 per cent higher than their resting heart rate.

Mr Morris said: “Rising levels of obesity in children are well documented and it is widely reported that they are no longer as physically active, preferring  to stay in to watch TV or play on computers instead of playing outside or exercising.

“This study looked at the Kinect console where the child becomes the controller and is much more active in the gameplay – moving around the room, waving their arms and legs to control the character on screen, instead of simply holding a control and twiddling their thumbs.

“While it is unlikely that active gaming can single-handedly provide a substitute for traditional outdoor play or sports, these results do suggest that if played regularly, active gaming could prove to be an effective means of bridging the gap in the low physical activity levels currently being observed in children.”

See full story in the Chester Leader

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