Active video games can be a better source of moderate or intense physical activity than outdoor play in children five to eight years old.
The study by researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville suggests that the increasing use of video games which is often blamed for lack of physical activity in children can actually be a source of physical activity.
"Our study shows video games which wholly engage a child's body can be a source of physical activity. Previous studies investigating active video games had not investigated the energy expenditure of these games as compared to unstructured outdoor play," said Hollie Raynor, director of UT's Healthy Eating and Activity Laboratory.
Children between the ages of five and eight were given three accelerometers - one for the hip and one for each wrist.
The accelerometers on the wrists were placed to assess upper-body movement. During a three-week period, each child engaged in one active video gaming session and one unstructured outdoor playtime for 20 minutes each, and the children could stop and rest at any point.
A significant difference between active video gaming and outdoor play was found from the accelerometer. Active video gaming had a greater percentage of moderate to vigorous intensity than unstructured outdoor play.
"We're not saying video games should replace outdoor play , but there are better choices people can make when choosing the types of video games for their children," said Raynor.
The study is published in the Games for Health Journal.