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Exercise


Interactive Video Games Help Meet Exercise Recommendations

Interactive video games – such those played on the Nintendo Wii – may raise heart rate and provide exercise intensity levels high enough to meet federal physical activity guidelines, according to a pair studies presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) Annual Meeting.

The studies tested various Wii games to determine their energy requirements for college students and older adults, respectively. The college students played Wii boxing and tennis, and performed Wii Fit exercises, while the older adults only played Wii bowling.

For the college students, only Wii Boxing increased heart rate and VO2 levels enough to classify the activity as "moderate-intensity." Although that level meets basic physical activity recommendations set forth by the U.S. government and ACSM, study authors say it might still not be intense enough for some.

"If a college age student has average fitness, an interactive game like Wii Boxing will provide little stimulus to improve aerobic capacity," said Elizabeth DiRico, M.S., the study’s lead researcher. "If someone has a high level of fitness and is training or trying to increase their aerobic capacity even more, they’re going to have to do something beyond playing these games. However, this could be a way for sedentary people to get started with exercise and also provides those fit individuals with the opportunity to increase their overall daily physical activity."

Conversely, in the older adults study, Wii Bowling significantly increased heart rate in participants, as well as boosted mood and helped them feel refreshed and energized.

"Older adults often have a difficult time starting a fitness routine later in life," said Lucas Willoughby, ACSM Certified Health/Specialist, who co-authored the study with Petra Schuler, Ph.D. "Active game-playing might help them see that exercise isn’t about just hitting the treadmill. It can be fun and socially enjoyable, too."

For more information on ACSM, visit www.acsm.org.


© 2009 Health Resources Publishing