The introduction of motion controllers naturally led to the creation of fitness and sports-related games to make use of them. Anyone who’s
strummed their way to unconsciousness on Raining Blood played Kinect Sports and the like can attest to their sweat-generating potential. So can this so-called “exergaming” be a substitute for actual exercise?
Researchers from the University of Western Australia, in conjunction with the Australian Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, rounded up 15 children aged 9 to 11 and put them through a series of exercise sessions to gauge the effectiveness of “High intensity Exergaming” (HiE) and “Low intensity Exergaming” (LoE), compared to more traditional cardiovascular exercise.
In this case, “traditional” meant running on a treadmill, alternating between two-minute exercise periods and one minute of rest. The children remained on the treadmill until “volitional exhaustion”, with the speed gradually upped in 1km/h increments from an initial 4km/h.
For the exergaming sessions, researchers fired up Kinect Sports, using the 200m hurdles to simulate high-intensity and ten-pin bowling for low-intensity. Each game mode was played for a 15-minute period, which the paper states is the recommended time “speciﬁed by game manufacturers”. It’s mentioned that the children recruited did not own the game, in order to eliminate the influence of a training effect.
The results of the tests showed that the 200m hurdles could be legitimately classified as exercise of “moderate intensity”, while the ten-pin weighed in as “low intensity”. The paper concludes by saying that the results provide a “sound physiological rationale for inclusion of intensive exergames as a form of PA [physical activity] to potentially improve cardiovascular health in children”.
The Effect of Exergaming on Vascular Function in Children [Journal of Pedatrics, thanks Jake]