-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Active video games -- such
as those that get players to dance -- can encourage inner-city
children to be physically active and may reduce their risk of
obesity, according to new research.
The study included 104 children in grades three through eight at
a Washington, D.C., public school. They were randomly assigned to
three 20-minute sessions of their usual gym class or the active
video games "Dance Dance Revolution" and "Winds of Orbis: An Active
In Dance Dance Revolution, players dance along to music in
ever-increasing and complicated patterns. In Winds of Orbis,
players take on the role of a virtual superhero who climbs, jumps,
slides and goes through other types of active adventures.
Overall, children burned the most energy during regular gym
class. But the active video games got children in third, fourth and
fifth grades moving enough to achieve recommended levels of
vigorous activity, according to the researchers at the George
Washington University School of Public Health and Health
They said their findings, published online Jan. 9 in the journal
Games for Health, suggest that active video games might be
an effective alternative to traditional gym classes, at least for
"A lot of people say screen time is a big factor in the rising tide of childhood obesity," study lead author Todd Miller, an associate professor in the department of exercise science, said in a university news release. "But if a kid hates playing dodgeball but loves Dance Dance Revolution, why not let him work up a sweat playing [video] games?"
The researchers noted that several hundred schools in at least
10 states use active video games in physical education classes in
an effort to encourage inactive children, especially those who
don't like gym class, to get physically active.
This study was the first to focus on active gaming and black and
other minority children, who are at high risk of obesity, the
"Many of these children live in neighborhoods without safe places to play or ride a bike after school," Miller said. "If [video] games can get them to move in school then maybe they'll play at home too and that change could boost their physical activity to a healthier level."
The Nemours Foundation has more about
children and exercise.
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