Drs Louise Naylor and Michael Rosenberg, from UWA’s School of Sport Science Exercise and Health, are co-authors of a study published today in The Journal of Paediatrics. While other studies have assessed children’s energy expenditure and physical activity while playing active video games, this is the first study to measure the direct health benefits of high-intensity gaming on children’s arteries.
The finding is good news for parents and teachers concerned about high levels of obesity and low levels of physical activity among children. Less than 50 per cent of primary school-aged boys and less than 28 per cent of girls meet the minimum levels of physical activity required to maintain health.
With colleagues from Swansea University, Dr Naylor evaluated 15 children aged from 9 to 11 to determine whether high-intensity and low-intensity active video gaming – also known as exergaming – were as good for vascular function and health.
They compared children’s energy expenditure and heart rate when the children played both low-intensity and high-intensity active console video games and a session on a treadmill.
The researchers found that children playing a high-intensity video game used as much energy as if they were exercising moderately, and that high-intensity gaming improved children’s cardiovascular health and was a good form of activity for children to use to gain long-term and sustained health benefits.
Importantly, the children who participated in the study said they enjoyed playing both low and high-intensity games and were likely to continue playing them.
“Our research supports the growing notion that high-intensity activity is good for children and raises the potential for the inclusion of intensive exergames in the recommendations to improve health in children” Dr Naylor said.