Can E-Gaming Be Useful for Achieving Recommended Levels of Moderate-to-Vigorous-Intensity Physical Activity in Inner-City Children?

Active videogames provide an effective adjunct to traditional PE classes for reaching recommended activity levels in children.

It is recommended that children engage in 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) most days of the week. Low levels of MVPA contribute to pediatric obesity, which is more prevalent among African Americans and Latinos who may not have access to safe neighborhood physical activity resources. Interactive video games (e-games) provide alternative ways for children to up their activity levels in and out of school.

These researchers compared the energy expended (measured by an accelerometer) over 20 minutes of traditional physical education (PE) and two different e-game designs: 1) “Dance Dance Revolution,” a “tethered” design game, where the player follows a preprogrammed pattern of dance movements; and “Winds of Orbis: An Active Adventure,” which provides a game experience tailored to the individual’s abilities, preferences, and goals.

Some 104 Washington, D.C., students in grades 3–8 participated in each of the three activities, thus acting as his or her own comparison.

Among all grades, energy expenditure was highest for PE. In the younger grades (3–5), all three activities met requirements for vigorous physical activity. In the higher grades (6–8), only PE met the vigorous intensity requirement for boys. Older girls expended the least energy in all three activities.