Active Video Games Can Help
New research suggests that some video games may actually be good for your health.
A study funded by Nintendo and conducted by Motohiko Miyachi, PhD, of the National Institute of Health and Nutrition in Tokyo, looked at the popular Wii Fit Plus and Wii Sports video games to determine how much energy is expended by gamers.
Researchers put 12 healthy, normal-weight men and women between the ages of 25 and 44 in an airtight room and recorded the level of carbon dioxide in the air as the subjects participated in various Wii Fit and Wii Sports activities. Each game was played for eight minutes, starting with the beginner levels.
The study found that a majority of the games were only considered light-intensity exercise. Ideally, you should be doing moderate-intensity exercise that requires about 3 METs, the unit used to measure how hard your body is working during exercise, for 30 minutes a day. The Wii Fit Plus’s Yoga and balance activities, for example, only required about 2 METs. However, there were some activities on the Wii Fit Plus and Wii Sports that did meet fitness guidelines.
Moderate Intensity Games:
- Basic run, just over 5.0 METs
- Boxing, single-leg reach, advanced step, hula-hoop, and the push-up and side plank, slightly more than 4.0 METs each
- Running plus, 4.0 METs
- Driving range, balance bridge, tennis, baseball, and rowing squat, about 3 METs
The single-arm stand resistance exercise of Wii Fit Plus was the only activity that measured close to the high-intensity exercise threshold of 6.0 METs, which is about the equivalent of the energy needed for running or swimming.
To get the most benefit out of these video games, you should focus on the moderate-intensity games. However, any additional physical activity will help improve your overall health.