Using Active Video Games for Physical Activity Promotion

A Systematic Review of the Current State of Research

Obesity poses an increasingly serious public health problem and many people struggle to engage in appropriate levels of physical activity. Active video games, which engage the player in physical activity in an entertainment setting, may serve as a form of exercise. This article examines the body of knowledge about the role of active video games in daily physical activity.

The authors identified 28 laboratory studies and 13 intervention studies on active video games published between 1995 and 2011. Sample sizes ranged from eight to 100 participants. The studies included various age groups and multiple active game platforms.

Key Findings:

  • Laboratory studies established that active video games result in light-to-moderate levels of physical activity.
  • Only three of 13 intervention studies showed that active video games increased total physical activity.

This research, part of the Health Games Research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, suggests that while active video games may result in physical exertion, it is unclear whether these games lead to a significant improvement in overall levels of physical activity.