Study concludes physical video games have no impact on fitness
Some have always been sceptical about just how much good games like Wii Fit are for you. Nevertheless gullible parents buy every single dance and fitness game for their weight-challenged children every Christmas, hoping those games will be better for them because they’ll have to get off the sofa in order to play them.A new study conducted by the Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston concluded that playing active video games is no better than playing a game sat down.Previous studies have shown that adults and children who play active video games do engage in physical exercise when encouraged. However, these studies took place under ideal laboratory settings, this new study tested what the results would be in actual homes.The participants were children aged between 9 and 12 who had a larger than average body mass index and whose households did not already own a console. Each household was given a Wii and were randomly split into two groups. One group could choose two among the five most physically demanding games; Active Life: Extreme Challenge, EA Sports Active, Dance Dance Revolution, Wii Fit Plus and Wii Sports. The other group got to choose among the most popular games played passively including Disney’s Sing It: Pop Hits, and Madden NFL 10.The children wore accelerometers to measure physical activity over the 13-week long experiment. The researchers did not encourage them to exercise so they could clearly see if there was a change in attitude. They found no evidence to suggest the children playing active video games took part in more physical activity than the children who played the non-physical video games.Anthony Barnett, an exercise physiologist, thinks this is due to a popular phenomenon that when you prescribe physical activity the overall amount done never increases because the participant reduces the amount of other activity they were doing to compensate. So, if you play the Wii Fit for an hour you think it’s OK not to go for a long walk with the dog later.If you’re thinking of investing in the new Wii Fit U, I would suggest just playing what you really enjoy and keeping your fitness and your video games separate.More at NY Times.