Alternate Forms of Physical Activity; Are Activity-Promoting Video Games an Effective Form of Energy Expenditure?
Overweight and obesity, which are typically associated with an increased prevalence of hypokinetic diseases, are growing public health concerns in Canada. Aside from high calorie diets, much of the blame has been attributed to physical inactivity and sedentary behaviours. High levels of screen time are associated with overweight and obesity in youths and adults. An emerging novel alternate form of physical activity (PA) is that of Activity-Promoting Video Games (APVG) such as the Nintendo Wii system and Dance Dance Revolution. The goal of these video activities is to contribute to overall daily energy expenditure by converting normally sedentary screen time into active screen time. Some research indicates that playing these video games regularly can elicit an exercise response that meets national PA guidelines, while other research does not. The measured energy expenditure while participating in APVGs is elevated above that of sedentary counterparts, but it is not as high as participating in the real life activities simulated in the video games. Surprisingly, an interactive video game involving stationary cycling improved training adherence and common indicators of health-related fitness more than traditional stationary cycling, but did not change body composition. Although APVGs may increase daily energy expenditure when they replace sedentary screen time, their overall effectiveness in improving health is unclear. On the other hand, APVGs could achieve some increase in caloric expenditure in individuals who avoid typical forms of PA. Further high quality investigations of these new APVGs will allow clearer judgments on their effectiveness.
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