A recent study suggests that the physical movement involved in playing action-based video games might just be as effective as the physical activity involved in playing outdoors. In fact, researchers claim that active gaming could be more beneficial than telling the kids to play any outdoor “unstructured game.”
Researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, used accelerometers measured the intensity created in the bodies of children involved in either active gaming or unstructured outdoor play. Accelerometers were placed on a hip and wrist of the child under observation. Each participant was asked to play "Kinect Adventures: River Rush" on Microsoft's Xbox 360, and to engage in unstructured play outside. Each session lasted for 15 to 20 minutes, with children permitted to rest at will.
Researchers found that active gaming “created a greater percentage of moderate to vigorous intensity than unstructured outdoor play,” Tech Times reported. However, only the hip accelerometer showed the intensity of the physical activity. The intensity remained the same in the wrist accelerometer.
Still, the study showed that active video gaming matches the intensity of physical activity, with motion-based video games just as good for exercise as unstructured outdoor play. "We're not saying video games should replace outdoor play, but there are better choices people can make when choosing the types of video games for their children," said Hollie Raynor, director of the university’s Healthy Eating and Activity Laboratory. “Previous studies investigating active video games had not investigated the energy expenditure of these games as compared to unstructured outdoor play.”