Exergaming: The Key to Eliminating
One of the biggest problems afflicting our youth in America today is obesity. However, these children are not only overweight they are dangerously overweight. Technology has become increasingly easier to access and the amount of video games, movies and television shows being created has promoted a more sedentary lifestyle to kids at a young age. Once you realize just how problematic being obese can be for children it’s natural to wonder what we can possibly do to reverse this. School is the number one place where kids can get physically active in a safe environment through physical education classes and recess. However not every kid loves to play sports or is considered to be athletic, so those kids often do not get the same amount of physical activity that their more athletic counterparts get. There is a surprising solution that can solve all of these problems and it is called exergaming. This new form of physical activity called exergaming can be utilized in American schools and help alleviate childhood obesity.
Exergaming is a fairly new concept, and it stands for exercise gaming. This new gaming experience combines the technology aspect that kids are fond of and physical activity. Exergaming requires the kids to physically interact with the game by moving their arms, legs or in some cases, their entire body. Dance Dance Revolution is one example of an exergame. An article from the Journal of Sports and Health Science goes into detail of how a game like Dance Dance Revolution can impact kids. “Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) combines dancing, which involves agility, balance, and cardiorespiratory endurance, with energetic music and visuals, which capture children’s interest and promote a health-enhancing level of PA for fitness.” One of the reasons kids find exergaming to be fun is because they find the gameplay to be more engaging than the typical methods of physical activity we are used to.
Physical activity is not easy for all kids especially in a group setting such as physical education. Many children experience anxiety or low self-esteem because they constantly compare themselves to the more athletic kids. These feelings are especially apparent when playing games such as soccer or baseball where some of the kids have been specifically trained in that sport. While it is understandable for some kids to be reluctant to participate due to these confidence issues it ultimately does affect their health and sometimes it can be in major ways. To combat this problem utilizing the exergaming within physical education classes can make physical activity more accessible and enjoyable for all types of students. Exergaming is fairly simple and does not require a high athletic ability to be able to effectively play and win the game. This allows for students to be more equal in their abilities and helps build up confidence.
In addition, exergaming can be used anywhere and at any time. Seeing that exergaming is meant to be used indoors it is not dependent on the weather and therefore can be used whenever and wherever as long as there is electricity. This type of gaming can be a great substitute for indoor recess or physical education class because it allows the students to still get their energy out and get active without having to brave bad weather. In addition, for families that can afford it they can even incorporate these exergames at home as well. They do not require much space and can be easily played inside the house.
In addition, exergaming also gives students more motivation than some of the more typical physical education activities. A study was done involving two different physical education teachers who implemented exergaming within their classrooms. Overall, throughout the study both the teachers and the students reacted positively towards the exergaming. . In an article from the Journal of Case Studies in Education two physical education teachers were interviewed about the use of exergaming in their classrooms. “It was really highly motivating for them; they were really into exergaming. I thought that, depending on what station they were at, the engagement for all of them was almost equal, it didn’t matter what station they were at, they were all excited.” Being able to have high scores that can be beat within the game is one reason why exergaming helps motivate students. They continuously want to do better and therefore put in more work and increase their physical activity. In addition to motivation the students also showed a lot of enthusiasm when they saw improvement in their performance on the games.
Another interesting thing about exergaming was that gender played no role in both enjoyment of the game or the amount of physical activity that they got out of it. When it came to testing out a bunch of different types of games it was found that both boys and girls enjoyed all of them equally. In addition, it was found that regardless of gender more than fifty percent of the students saw an increase in physical activity while playing the exergame. This was surprising because when it comes to most things there seems to be some sort of divide between boys and girls however the fact that both genders were able to equally enjoy exergaming makes it the perfect thing to utilize in physical education.
The issue of physical activity is a huge one in America today. Kids do not play outside or do as many physically demanding activities as much. Having unlimited access to technology such as iPads, iPhones and television have promoted sedentary lifestyles in children. An article from the Journal of Sport and Health Science talks about how it is recommended that kids get at least sixty minutes of physical activity a day however more and more kids are missing that mark.“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. Schools reach nearly 95% of children in the USA and are important venues to promote weekday PA participation.” Even just the community that the child is from can play a huge part on whether or not they will get enough physical activity. Some communities have many different programs that kids can participate in such as sports teams or classes such as dance or gymnastics. However underserved communities do not have these opportunities and rely almost exclusively on school to provide physical activity opportunities. Being able to have exergaming equipment in schools can be an answer to help provide physical activity opportunities to every type of student no matter their gender, athletic ability or even where they reside.
Throughout the years technology has become more and more prominent in people’s everyday lives. People are extremely reliant on technology and love the benefits so much that we install it in every aspect of our lives including our homes and our cars. However, we often turn on technology when something goes wrong with our children and blame it for everything. Just think when kids don’t sleep, have no social skills and exhibit signs of depression we instantly blame technology. This same logic is used when it comes to our children being obese. While the idea of technology being the cause of sedentary lifestyles in children sounds plausible technology is actually not to blame when it comes to childhood obesity. In fact, technology, specifically exergaming can actually be one of the reasons we are able to combat the growing rate of obesity in our children.
One big reason kids do not get enough physical activity is because they have low confidence due to having a lack of athleticism. There are many children out there who are naturally athletic or have been substantially trained in a sport whereas there are many other children who do not fall into this category. Clumsiness is a natural deterrent from physical activity because it’s impossible for clumsy kids to gain the confidence they need to be able to perform well in physical activities. Since these kids are less likely to actively participate in their physical education classes then these children are missing out on what could be their only form of structured physical activity they get. However, one thing that can easily fix this problem is implementing exergaming into physical education. Exergaming is something that every kid can participate in confidently because you do not have to be particularly athletic to do well in these games. It is said in an article by Catherine D. Ennis that, “Exergames typically are situationally interesting and motivational both to skilled and unskilled students.” Exergames incorporate simple movements such as moving your arms and legs and jumping up and down. These simple movements allow students who are clumsier to feel more comfortable and be at an equal playing field with their more athletic counterparts.
Another reason why many kids are lacking physical activity is very surprising and rarely thought about. Kids from underserved communities typically have less opportunities to participate in physical activities than those kids who grew up in more affluent communities. Affluent communities have plenty of after school organized activities such as little leagues, dance classes and more that are meant to get kids active and train them in that particular activity. However underserved communities do not have the money to support programs like this and it naturally puts the children in these communities at a disadvantage. This also causes a problem when it comes to physical education classes because those children who did not have access to sports programs will be less likely to succeed when playing these games with kids who have participated in afterschool sports programs. A study found in the Journal of Sport and Health Science found that, “Schools reach nearly 95% of children in the USA and are important venues to promote weekday PA participation.” Since physical education is so important for our children it is important to play games that every child will be able to be confident playing and successful at. Integrating exergaming into schools will help allow kids of all skill levels regardless of whether or not they had the money to participate in sports programs to be put on an even playing field and find their physical education classes to be more enjoyable.
In addition to lack of opportunities many kids also lack physical activity simply because of where their home is located. Not every child is able to live in a home with a big backyard that they can run around and play in after school. For some the only safe place that they can play with children their own age is at the school playground. While being able to play outside for recess every day substantially increases their physical activity, they unfortunately cannot always have outdoor recess due to weather. In order to remedy this, exergaming can be used when recess is forced to move indoors since it does not take up much space yet still allows the kids to get their energy out and participate in physical activity.
So while it is easy to blame technology for why our children are becoming increasingly more obese the facts point to technology being one of the things we can use to combat obesity. One of the most important parts of exergaming is that it has some of the same benefits as the more conventional forms of physical activity including however it has more cognitive benefits as well. Exergaming requires kids to solve problems while being physically active to complete the game. In addition, an article called “Exergaming and physical education: A qualitative examination from the teachers’ perspectives” interviewed P.E. teachers who utilized exergaming in their classrooms. These teachers said, “It was really highly motivating for them; they were really into exergaming…the engagement for all of them was almost equal, it didn’t matter what station they were at, they were all excited.” They found that the exergames were clearly more motivating and enjoyable to the students than the typical games they played in physical education. When you really think about how beneficial it can be, incorporating an exergaming program into a physical education class is the best decision.
Exergaming can solve all the reasons why kids are not able to be as physically active as they should be. It helps kids become more confident when doing physical activities since exergaming requires kids to do basic movements that everyone can do without having to be athletic. It can easily be set up and used at a school in order to give kids somewhere safe to go and be active in inclement weather. In addition, schools can take it a step further and start after school exergaming programs which further gives kids the opportunity to be physically active. Clearly technology cannot be the first thing we blame when our kids are found to be obese. Instead, you have to carefully consider the other less thought about factors. In addition, we need to realize that when it comes to childhood obesity technology is not our enemy, instead it can be our children’s savior.
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. Even noted exercise researchers Nan Zeng and Zao Gao, who promote the benefits of exergaming as part of a school based physical education program, are not ready to confirm the long-term benefits of exergaming versus more traditional team sports. In an article called “Exergaming and Obesity in Youth: Current Perspectives” Zeng and Gao worry that “… the evidence regarding its effectiveness on health-related outcomes… remains unclear.” But despite those reservations, there is actually plenty of evidence that exergaming is extremely effective in improving health.
Exergaming without a doubt increases the physical activity of kids who play them compared to other games. Typical videogames are sedentary and cause kids to sit on the couch and watch a screen for hours on end. This plays a part in kids continuously missing the recommended sixty minutes of physical activity they are supposed to get each day. The numbers are shown 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”. While this shows some kids are able to reach this benchmark it is concerning that more than fifty percent of children do not. Exergaming however can easily remedy this. Exergaming combines the technology kids love while forcing them to get off the couch and be physically active in order to progress in the game. Unlike typical videogames, exergames require kids to actually move around in order for the character on the screen to move and earn points. Utilizing this technology in school will dramatically increase the amount of physical activity kids get each day and help them reach that sixty-minute mark.
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. Motivation is an important factor when it comes to exercising and being physically active and a study was conducted on what causes people to stick to an exercise regimen or physical activity. The article based on that study entitled “Intrinsic Motivation and Exercise Adherence” said, “… competence and enjoyment motives were predictive of greater adherence and attendance to one’s chosen activity.” So, for kids they find video games and technology to be enjoyable and motivating. Those things are easily incorporated into exergaming meaning that since the kids find it enjoyable, they are motivated and more likely to stick with exergaming causing them to continue to be physically active. It is important to remember that the best form of physical activity for kids is the one they are willing to actually stick to.
The physical activity children get through exergaming has just as many health benefits as a more typical form of physical activity has. Exergaming allows kids to participate in light physical activity. We have a preconceived notion that the only form of physical activity that has any real health benefits would be heavy physical activity however a study done by Minghui Quan, Zachary Pope and Zan Gao proved otherwise, “… LPA is independently and positively associated with improved health outcomes in children and adolescents, including reduced total body fat mass, some cardiometabolic risk factors, and improved body bone health, in addition to cognitive function improvements…” The amount of health benefits exergaming has can be surprising to many of us however exergaming really is not much different than the physical activity kids would typically get. A surprising benefit is the fact that exergames help improve cognition. This improvement will help 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 overall school performance.
It is understandable when you first think of exergaming it comes off as an odd or even unconventional way of combating childhood obesity however perhaps we should take a look at some of the unconventional things us adults do to reduce inactivity. Since many of us are stuck working at desks we often incorporate things such as standing desks, bike desks and yoga ball chairs to help reduce our sedentary lifestyles. When you really think about it, each and every one of those things is unconventional and has less proof of their benefits than there is for the benefits of exergaming. Overall exergaming solves the problem of childhood obesity while also being fun and enjoyable to the kids playing the games. It has obviously been proven without a doubt that exergaming would be a perfect activity to help kids increase their daily physical activity.
Ennis, C. D. (2013, July 1). Implications of exergaming for the physical education curriculum in the 21st Century. Journal of Sport and Health Science. Retrieved March 25, 2023
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
Lindberg, R., Seo, J., & Laine, T. H. (n.d.). Enhancing physical education with Exergames and wearable technology … Retrieved April 18, 2023
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
Ryan, R. M., Frederick, C. M., Lepes, D., Rubio, N., & Sheldon, K. M. (n.d.). Intrinsic Motivation and Exercise Adherence. Retrieved April 8, 202
Sheehan, D. P., Katz, L., & Kooiman, B. J. (2015). Exergaming and physical education: A qualitative examination from the teachers’ perspectives . Journal of Case Studies in Education, 4, 1–14. Retrieved March 7, 2023Zeng, N., & Gao, Z. (2022, November 23). Exergaming and obesity in youth: Current perspectives. Taylor & Francis. Retrieved April 11, 2023
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
For feedback I would like to know if I have made combined the three essays in a way that flows well. If not, how could I improve? Also, I would like to know if I have overlooked any grammar fails. Thank you Professor!
I don’t know yet, but I’m impressed to see this here today, Sunflower. 🙂
I’m actually going to take this out of feedback please and edit it a little bit more before I put it back in.
I still would like the same feedback I previously ask for but I also just want to know how to improve it. I feel kind of stuck when editing.
I find the paragraph sequence odd, Sunflower.
You seem to solve a problem completely in the first 6 paragraphs. Then you spend the next several starting over to establish that there was a problem to solve, blaming several factors for causing it, then re-introducing the same solution as before. Entertain some doubts, praise the solution some more, then conclude with “it couldn’t hurt!”
It’s not easy splicing the pieces of three short essays together.
I admire that you’re willing to work on the flow.
Thank you so much for pointing that out professor! I will definitely work on the flow of this piece to make it sound better.