Exercise Based Video Games Increase Activity, But Don’t Beat the Real Thing

Exercise-based video games — or “exergames” — are no substitute for real exercise, but do provide “light-to-moderate” physical activity, researchers from Michigan State University find.

In other words, Wii Fit may not help you get the 30 minutes of daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity that health experts recommend, but exergames could be a good alternative if you’ve been injured or ill and are unable to practice more intense exercise.

“The games do have the potential to be useful,” says lead author Wei Peng, an assistant professor of telecommunication, information studies and media at MSU. “Especially for populations that are more suitable to light-to-moderate activity – seniors, for example.”

Likewise, exergames may help those who are completely sedentary get on the road to more intense activity.

“Eventually the goal is to help them get somewhat active and maybe move to real-life exercise,” Pei says.

The researchers drew their conclusions from a review of 41 studies on active video games.

The study appears online in the journal Health Education and Behavior.

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