Interactive digital or video-based games such as Wii Fit and Dance Dance Revolution known as 'Exergames' have been touted as fitness programmes for young children and young adults.
Two recent studies have investigated these claims to check whether there is any significant impact on calories. Although the findings show that some of the games do have an effect, it has also been discovered that the games that have the most benefit are not the most popular.
The first study focused on the number of calories burnt in comparison to walking on a treadmill at 3 mph. At the same time the children who were involved were asked to rate their level of enjoyment in playing the games. The games under study were Sportwall, the Jackie Chan Alley Run by Xavix, Lightspace Bug Invasion, Cybex Trazer Goalie Wars, Dance Dance Revolution and Nintendo Wii Boxing.
While walking on a treadmill produced a metabolic equivalent [MET] of 4.9, the Wii game came in at 4.2, Dance Dance Revolution was 5.4, the Lightspace game was 6.4, the Xavix game was 7, the Cybex Trazer was 5.9, and the Sportwall was 7.1.
The children liked the Sportwall game the most, and the Xavix game the least although both games produced a similar metabolic equivalent. It is also remarkable that those who were overweight or were at a risk enjoyed the games more than the children who did not have a problem with their weight.
In another study, researchers measured calorie burn and the fun quotient among 100 men and women aged 18 to 35 who played four types of games: shooter, band simulation, dance simulation and fitness.
Although the band simulation games did not burn as many calories as some of the others did, they were the most popular. But the researchers feel optimistic that in spite of not having a more powerful effect on calorie burn, the exergames will encourage a more active lifestyle.