- Users of Nintendo Wii no more active than those playing video games sat down
- ‘Frankly we were shocked by the complete lack of difference,’ say scientists
Last updated at 5:11 PM on 28th February 2012
They are billed as the perfect way to exercise and have fun, all without having to leave the comfort of your own living room.
But playing active video games won’t help you stay fit, a study has found.
Researchers who tracked dozens of overweight children for three months found those who mimicked the movements of boxing, tennis and other sports using a Nintendo Wii were no more active over all than those who played video games while sitting on the couch.
A study suggests playing active video games won’t help people to stay fit
The results of the study, published in Pediatrics (CORR), a major medical journal, will be a blow to Nintendo, which claims that playing with its latest gadget, the Wii Fit Plus, ‘a little every day’ will help people become fitter and healthier.
Nintendo is also an official partner of Change4Life, the Government’s high profile anti-obesity drive.
Unlike traditional sit-down video games, the Wii is played by waving a wireless, motion-sensitive box through the air to control the movement of bats, racquets and boxing gloves.
Gamers can also dance, do yoga, practise their skiing and hone their hula hoop skills without ever stepping outside.
Some previous studies have shown it to
boost exercise levels. But these were done under tightly-controlled
laboratory conditions and real world studies have produced conflicting
The news will be a blow to Nintendo, which claims playing with its Wii Fit Plus will help people become fitter
So,Tom Baranowski, of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston Texas, set out to resolve the issue.
Seventy eight overweight boys and girls were given Wii consoles and a supply of active or inactive games and fitted with a gadget that recorded how much they moved.
This revealed those who played the active games to not do any more exercise overall than those who played the more traditional inactive games.
Dr Baranowki said: ‘We expected that playing the video games would in fact lead to a substantial increase in physical activity in the children.
‘Frankly we were shocked by the complete lack of difference.’
He said it was possible that the children put the minimum of effort into playing the active games. Another possibility is that they compensated for their exertion by doing less exercise later on.
Dr Baranowski cautioned that his study wasn’t definitive but said that it ‘indicates that there’s no public health benefit from having those active video games’.
He added: ‘These findings suggest that simply acquiring a new video games does not automatically lead to increased physical activity, thereby minimising the public health value of simply having active video games available for children to play.’
Other experts said that it was still possible that the children burned extra calories during their gaming sessions that the movement device didn’t pick up on – for instance, if they were moving their arms a lot in a boxing game.
Over time, this could add up.
But Dr Baranowski said that such small amounts of movement would be of little benefit to health.