Jackie Fernandez April 12, 2011 Engl 102 – 080 Research Essay “Let’s Get Physical, Physical…” Physical inactivity is a serious health issue among children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends one hour of physical activity, daily, in order to stay healthy. While watching television is a favorite sedentary pastime and a popular choice of entertainment, the use of video games has been dominantly proliferate among children.
Video gaming is often described as an unhealthy form of activity for children because it requires them to sit immobile in front of the television screen while engaging in these video games which condemns them to an unhealthy diet of inactivity. The time spent on video gaming has been steadily increasing. According to GRABstats. com, sixty-five percent of American households play computer or video games with twenty-five percent of those being children. Frequent use of video games has been linked to the increasing rates of child obesity as well as overweight children.
Thirty-two percent of children are obese or overweight (Guy & et al. 2011). Since the growing rates of video game use and child obesity are directly proportional to each other, it has been suggested that high rates of video game use is a contributing factor in such a sedentary lifestyle. As these rates continue to rise, promoting physical activity is important. To promote physical activity, the gaming industry has simultaneously introduced a new form of video gaming called “exergaming”, which is the use of video games that provide physical exercise.
The term “exergaming” derives from the words exercise and gaming (Exergamefitness. com). Exergames are interactive video games such as Wii Sports, Wii Fit for the Wii and Dance Central for the Xbox Kinect. These types of games require the player to get off their feet and virtually participate in the activity and therefore requiring a lot of movement. Exergaming promotes physical activity and as children love to play video games, interactive video games such as exergames provide a solution to increasing the rate of physical activity in children as well as lowering the rate of children overweight and child obesity.
With the inventions of the Nintendo Wii and Kinect for the Xbox 360*, video gaming is no longer frowned upon. Most children have access to television and a video game console at home and since the average child spends about thirteen hours of his/her time playing video game in one week (Brandenburg, 2008), why not use what they enjoy doing to promote and incorporate physical exercise? Based on the prevalence of video gaming, combining the idea of physical exercise with this sedentary behavior has become an effective method in increasing physical activity participation.
Increasing physical activity improves the health of children. Exergames such as the Wii Sports, simulate activities such as boxing, tennis, baseball, etc. When playing these games, the participant goes through motions similar to that of the traditional sport. Instead of using the standard game controller, the controllers of the interactive video games are actually the participants themselves; it is their bodily movements that control what happens in the game. Virtually participating in the sport or activity in the comfort of their own home results in a lot of perspiration.
This type of video game requiring the player to perform similar movements is actually helping children who play video games to be in better shape. Exergames improve the health of children because it gets them going, exposing them to movement as suppose to inactivity in traditional video games that require a lot of time sitting. Video games are indeed a fun pastime for children, and with the concept of exergames, they can keep fit while having fun. Video gamers who participate in these games are not only enjoying the video game, but they are incorporating physical activity in their day which assists in increasing the amount of energy used.
Exergames are beneficial in a way that it increases energy expenditure. Researchers have found that children who play exergames use more energy playing the interactive video game than children who play video games while sitting down (ScienceDaily. com). According to an article from the journal of Pediatrics, a research was done to investigate the energy expenditure in interactive video games versus the energy expenditure in regular, button-pressing video games. The research tested children’s energy expenditure and heart rate during interactive video gaming on the Wii and while playing non-active video games.
The research showed that children who played interactive video games such as Wii boxing and Wii tennis used more energy than children who played sedentary video games such as Super Mario Bros or Toy Story 3. Specifically, the energy expenditure was fifty-one percent higher during exergaming/interactive video gaming than during sedentary video gaming (Daley, 2009). With these results, the research compared these findings to energy expenditure requirements of some traditional physical activity.
When compared, the energy expenditure while exergaming was similar to the amount of energy used when swimming, jogging, and power-walking (Daley, 2009). Similarly, the results of another study that tested the idea of exergaming as a means of increasing energy expenditure and caloric expenditure showed that high rates of energy expenditure, caloric expenditure as well as heart rate were acquired from playing interactive video games (ScienceDaily. com). The study concluded that the overall amount of energy expenditure from playing exergames was comparable to moderate-intensity walking (ScienceDaily. om). These research provide evidence that such interactive video games require children to use more energy than regular video games since interactive video games keeps them constantly moving. As well as exergames contribute to the increase in energy expenditure, they also serve as a factor in increasing caloric expenditure. Caloric expenditure is associated with weight loss since weight loss cannot be achieved without actually burning the calories. Children who exergame burn more calories per hour than children who play sit-down video games.
Researchers found that while playing a game of Wii boxing, a child loses about one hundred and seventy-five calories in one hour; it was also found that one-hundred and sixty-eight calories was lost per hour while playing interactive bowling as suppose to the very little amount of calories lost while playing motionless video games (Gupta, 2008). The results gathered in this research concluded that children playing interactive video games do in fact burn calories, more so than when playing a traditional video game.
Given that children burn a sufficient amount of calories through exergaming, exergames provide those benefits which lead to keeping children at a healthy weight, physically fit as well as increased physical activity. While exergaming helps to lose calories and increase energy expenditure, losing calories and using energy results in being physically fit. With these factors, these results show how beneficial exergaming is and how it helps to encourage physical activity and lowering the rate of overweight children. As xergames simulate activities that expose children to constant movement, it also allows the child to exercise while playing the game, whether or not the child is even aware of it. As children spend their time playing video games, exercise and physical fitness is being facilitated. A study showed that children who did play exergames were more physically fit than children who spent their time playing sedentary video games (Daley, 2009). The new inventions of interactive video games encourage the child to exercise and become fit, all while doing what they do most, playing video games.
Although interactive video games provide beneficial aspects, some question “Wasn’t it video games that created this problem to begin with”? Since traditional video games are widely associated with the “couch potato” lifestyle, limiting the amount of time spent on video games was heavily emphasized. Some argued that the less time you spend in front of the television playing video games, the more you’ll spend time participating in recreational or physical activities. Restricting the amount of time spent playing video games does not reduce the number of children that play video games since video games are a part of American culture.
Instead of limiting video game use, limiting the amount of time spent sitting or being sedentary would strongly contribute to increasing physical activity. With the inventions of exergames in video game consoles such as the Kinect for the Xbox 360* and the Nintendo Wii, these forms of exergames require a lot of physical movement to complete tasks in a game or virtually play a sport. Although exergames don’t reduce video game use, it increases the amount of physical activity.
A game researcher at the NMSU (New Mexico State University) Learning Games Lab stated that “We have such a fear of screen time that we’ve been trained to think that screen time is the enemy, but screen time isn’t the enemy anymore, because screen time can be one of the best ways to educate people and also one of the best ways to get people moving” (Metropolis, 2009). Researchers found that substituting sedentary video games with physically active video games is a safe, fun, valuable means of promoting physical activity participation and good health (ScienceDaily. om). Basically, limiting the time spent sitting is more beneficial than limiting screen time because it allows children to be active. Another major argument concluded from an English study found that exergames don’t replace recreational or physical activities and that the children are better off going out and participating in traditional outdoor/physical activities. The English study found that “although kids who play these games are burning calories, they’re better off going out and playing real sports instead of jumping in front of a TV screen” (Gupta, 2008).
The researchers in this study also argued that the energy expenditure in exergames was lower than those during the real sports, which made exergames not intense enough to make a difference in achieving daily physical activity (Gupta, 2008). When comparing the caloric expenditure of interactive video games to real sports, they found that children who participate in boxing burn three-hundred and eighty four calories per hour, doubling the amount of the one-hundred and seventy-five calories lost from interactive boxing (Gupta, 2008).
They also found that while bowling at a bowling alley, the caloric expenditure was one-hundred and ninety-two calories per hour (Gupta, 2008). The amount of caloric expenditure in real-life bowling exceeded the amount of calories lost in interactive video games by twenty-four calories. Although exergames don’t replace real sports, the sole purpose of exergames was not to replace traditional activities but to simply simulate physical activity to children who play video games.
Yes, traditional physical activity is more effective in raising the rate of physical activity and lowering the rate of overweight children, but exergames is just an extent of providing physical activity. Not all children can go outside and participate in physical activities, especially when the weather is not their side. Exergames can give children the needed physical activity during times of uncooperative weather. If anything, exergames replace sedentary video games. Exergames keep children active even when their indoors, which is ultimately better than sitting.
With exergames, they are at least still burning calories and being physically active which is a step towards increasing physical activity and physical fitness. In spite of the fact that exergames don’t replace traditional physical activities, exergames do replace sedentary video games. Sedentary video games is the prime factor of sedentary lifestyles that children have that lead to their unhealthy weight and low amount of physical activity. But with the new inventions and continuous development of exergames, children are getting a dose of daily physical activity that they need to stay healthy.
Exergames increase energy expenditure and burn calories, two important elements in weight loss and physical fitness that sedentary video games lack. With exergaming providing both elements, exergaming is then providing and implementing exercise in the video game. Exergaming primarily facilitates exercise and promotes good health, both of which were factors of traditional video games that made video games themselves an “unhealthy” and “bad” activity. While children spend so much time playing video games, it is through interactive video games where they get the exercise while still playing a video game.
A large number of children who play exergames have lost weight or maintained physically fit (Gupta, 2008). With that being said, video games, are not bad after all. Works Cited “% of American Households That Play Computer or Video Games. ” Grabstats. Entertainment Software Association. Web. 10 Apr. 2011. . “Active Video Games A Good Alternative To Moderate Exercise For Kids, Study Suggests. ” Science Daily: News & Articles in Science, Health, Environment & Technology. ScienceDaily, 17 July 2009. Web. 11 Apr. 2011. . Brandenburg, Mark. “Interesting Statistics About Video Games | DIYFather. com. DIYFather. com | It’s Great to Be a Dad. 29 Jan. 2008. Web. 09 Apr. 2011. . Daley, Amanda J. “Can Exergaming Contribute to Improving Physical Activity Levels and Health Outcomes in Children? — Daley 124 (2): 763 — Pediatrics. ” Can Exergaming Contribute to Improving Physical Activity Levels and Health Outcomes in Children? 124. 2 (2009): 763-71. Pediatrics | Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. 13 July 2009. Web. 11 Apr. 2011. . Garza, Michelle. “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow: Active Games Offer Youth Physical Activity during Bad Weather – Exergames Unlocked. Exergames Unlocked. NM State University Learning Games Lab, 20 Mar. 2010. Web. 11 Apr. 2011. . Gupta, Sanjay. “Video Games Make Kids Wiggle – CNN. com. ” CNN. com – Breaking News, U. S. , World, Weather, Entertainment & Video News. Caple News Network Health, 09 Dec. 2008. Web. 10 Apr. 2011. . Kluger, Jeffrey. “How America’s Children Packed On the Pounds – TIME. ” Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos, Video, Tech Reviews – TIME. com. 12 June 2008. Web. 05 May 2011. . Metropolis, Kate. “Barbara Chamberlin. ” Health Games Research.
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