Exergaming: The True Benefits
Exergaming is a relatively new idea so it is natural that there would be some speculation regarding the effectiveness of exergaming and whether or not it truly has any positive effects at all. Afterall when thinking about video games and obesity we unconsciously link the two in the sense that video games cause obesity. However, it was made clear that video games actually are not the cause of obesity and can actually help fight obesity. In an article called Exergaming and Obesity in Youth: Current Perspectives by Nan Zeng and Zan Gao they claim that “… the evidence regarding its effectiveness on health-related outcomes… remains unclear.” While this claim is understandable for someone to think is true there is actually plenty of evidence that proves exergaming is extremely effective when it comes to improving health.
Before video games really became a major part of everyday life children were more than happy to play outside all day long or participate in the typical games played in a typical physical education class. It is recommended for kids to get at least sixty minutes of physical activity each day which with the rapid growth of technology kids have continuously missed this sixty-minute mark. This was evident in the article, Impact of exergaming on young children’s School Day Energy expenditure and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity levels which said, “research indicated only 42% of U.S. children aged 6–11 years and 8% of adolescents participated in the recommended 60 min of MVPA per day”. The lack of physical activity is highly concerning, and it is extremely easy to take video games and blame it on all of our problems. The bottom line is that these kids are not growing up in the same world you and I grew up in because of this it is important to take into consideration what is available and enjoyed by kids today and solve the problems based on that and not our outdated version of how things should be. One of the best ways to ensure that kids get the recommended sixty minutes of physical activity is by incorporating physical activity into the videogames they enjoy playing. It is far better to incorporate what is good for kids into something they already thoroughly enjoy. This is where exergaming comes in.
Exergaming appeals to the children of today’s world. While the typical outdoor games of tag or manhunt would have appealed to past generations this generation tends to prefer video games that include physical activity such as Just Dance or the Kinect games for Xbox. These games incorporate the physical activity kids need in order to stay healthy and the video gaming aspect that they enjoy. Exergames make kids be physically active by moving their arms, legs and moving and jumping around in order to advance through the game. These types of games are more motivating to today’s children because of the challenges that are present and ever changing within the game and the ability to always increase your scores. In addition, these games are playable and enjoyable for kids of all different skill levels.
In addition, the physical activity that children get through exergaming has the exact same benefits as a more typical form of physical activity has. The article entitled Examining Young Children’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviors in an Exergaming Program using Accelerometry said that exergaming showed,”…improvements in physiological and cognitive outcomes, such as body composition, cardiorespiratory fitness, bone health, cognition, and academic achievement.” All of these benefits can be found in playing the typical sports such as soccer or basketball so it is incredibly amazing that the same effects can be seen from participating in an exergame. These findings are incredibly important when speaking about the effectiveness of exergaming and clearly shows that there are benefits. The main thing we are trying to solve when implementing exergaming is to combat the unhealthy and sedentary lifestyles that are increasing among children.
In addition to physical benefits that exergaming can provide it can also provide benefits in cognition and academic performance. In the article Enhancing Physical Education with Exergames and Wearable Technology they prove this point by saying “Previous research indicates that exergames may improve the fitness and motivation of players, as well as their cognitive and academic performance.” Exergames are not just about physical activity, they also include challenging puzzles that children have to solve in order to finish the game. This is a great way to improve children’s cognition because they do not necessarily realize that they are learning from these games because they just view them as being fun. Having improved cognition will also help these students in school because their brains will be more ready and open to learning. In addition, being physically active has been proven to improve brain function and kids who are often physically active have better grades and school performance.
As you can clearly see, the benefits of exergaming have been proven again and again by reputable studies. Exergaming clearly helps kids become more active in this ever-changing world that more often than not promotes sedentary lifestyles. The increase in videogames, television shows, movies and other sedentary activities exergaming gives kids the opportunity to be physically active while including the activities that appeal to them. In addition, exergaming also has numerous benefits to kids’ health, cognition and academic performance. Overall, the problem we are trying to solve by using exergaming is to make sure kids can be physically active and healthy and exergaming clearly solves this problem. With all of these facts it is obvious that exergaming has been proven to be an effective form of physical activity for children to participate in.
Gao, Z., Pope, Z., Eun Lee, J., Stodden, D., Roncesvalles, N., Pasco, D., Huang, C. C., & Feng, D. (2016, November 24). Impact of exergaming on young children’s School Day Energy expenditure and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity levels. Journal of Sport and Health Science. Retrieved March 7, 2023, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095254616301181
Quan, M., Pope, Z., & Gao, Z. (2018, September 25). Examining young children’s physical activity and sedentary behaviors in an exergaming program using accelerometry. MDPI. Retrieved March 7, 2023, from https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0383/7/10/302
R. Lindberg, J. Seo and T. H. Laine, “Enhancing Physical Education with Exergames and Wearable Technology,” in IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 328-341, 1 Oct.-Dec. 2016, doi: 10.1109/TLT.2016.2556671.
Zeng, N., & Gao, Z. (2022, November 23). Exergaming and obesity in youth: Current perspectives. Taylor & Francis. Retrieved April 11, 2023, from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.2147/IJGM.S99025