When the Wii video game console hit the American market six years ago, some thought that the technology would truly help improve physical fitness among children by making them more active. However, it appears that these games have not had the desired effect.
Previous studies showed that adults and children who took part in laboratory studies on active video games were moderately to vigorously active for a short period of time. It was not yet clear whether the consoles had the same effect when used at home.
Researchers therefore conducted a study to determine the impact of Wii technology on physical activity. The participants were 9- to 12-year-old children with an above-average body mass index. The children were given a Wii with either two physically demanding games or two games played passively. The participants wore a device periodically to measure physical activity over the course of the 13-week study. In order to measure the intrinsic appeal of active games, the researchers did not encourage the children to exercise more than usual.
In the end, the children who were given “athletic” video games were no more active than those who received “passive” games. A study published last year had come to the same conclusion – after monitoring a cohort of adults, researchers had found that the use of active video games such as Wii decreased radically after six weeks, and eventually had no significant effect on the amount of exercise done per day.
It isn’t easy to change the sedentary habits of children or adults, but it seems that video game consoles are not a lasting way to increase physical activity. To get kids moving, nothing compares to the excitement created by playing ball, swimming or going to the park. It’s summertime – why not take advantage of the beautiful weather to try new sports and develop active family routines while the weather is so inviting?