Living Room Athletes
Do exercise games equal a real workout?
No one doubts that “exercise” video games that require a player moves to control his character on the screen make you burn more calories than traditional video games. But, it’s not very much. It remains to be seen if these games will let you exert yourself enough to have a real effect on your health. The answer depends on the given game and the energy expended.
A recent study from the University of Waterloo reveals that students burn 5.4 times more calories playing Wii Sports Tennis than remaining seated on the couch. Sure, real tennis allows you to burn eight times more than at rest, but exercise games are still a good workout that can help improve physical condition. On the other hand, a prior study on other games like Dance Dance Revolution and Wii Bowling showed that they burned fewer calories, being the equivalent to a moderately paced walk.
Conclusion: active video games are better than inactivity, but don’t equal the real sports that they imitate. As most young Canadians spend already more than six hours a day sitting in front of a screen, “parents should at least encourage their kids to play games that make them move”, claims Scott Leatherdale, director of the Waterloo study. “That said, video games shouldn’t replace real physical activity”.