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Active video games healthy?

tech reviews Updated: Jul 17, 2009 16:20 IST

Playing active video games can be as beneficial for kids as moderate exercise, says a new study.

Research by Oklahoma University (OU) paediatricians shows that active video games offer a great alternative to moderate exercise for sedentary kids who may be at high risk of obesity and diabetes.

"These exer-games are no substitute for 'real' sports activities, but if kids play them as designed and stay engaged, they can burn several calories per hour above their sedentary level," said Kevin Short, principal project investigator.

"We view any increase in energy expenditure (calories burned) as a good thing, especially in our overly-sedentary society," he added.

To test the idea, researchers measured the heart rate, energy expenditure and self-reported exertion in children between 10 and 13 while they watched TV, played active video games and walked on the treadmill at three different speeds.

Compared to watching TV, the calories burned while gaming or walking increased two to three-fold. Similarly, high rates of energy expenditure, heart rate and perceived exertion were elicited from playing Wii boxing, Dance Dance Revolution Level 2 or walking at 3.5 mph.

Overall, the energy expenditure during active video game play was comparable to moderate-intensity walking, said an OU release.