Friday, 31 December 2010

Study: Xbox is better exercise than Wii

Active Gaming Proved To Keep Kids Interested

Two major criticisms of using active gaming for physical activity are the lack of exercise compared to traditional activity and the expectation that kids easily
get fed up with the new way of moving.

Two linked studies in the United Kingdom have tackled these issues head-on by trialling active gaming in a free-play environment. Two schools in the Midlands undertook a medium term study using popular active games compared against free play in the playground.

The effort that the kids expended was converted into “steps” to make the results comparable between the playground and the video games. The initial study, over six weeks used Nintendo Wii Sports active play compared with the baseline of traditional play. The results showed that in week one the Wii was king of the calories, keeping kids 25% more active than the playground.

After the first week, the criticisms of boredom and poor exercise appeared well founded, as Wii exercise floundered to a poor 65% of traditional activity. The study was then repeated, this time using Xbox and Gamercize Power Steppers. The results, unexpectedly, turned the thinking about the shortcomings of active gaming on its head.

For the second data collection, the kids had to keep moving on the Gamercize steppers to power their controllers and play the game, which would pause if they stopped moving. Normal video games are compatible with Gamercize and games such as Lego Star Wars and FIFA were used.

The Gamercize results were similar to Nintendo’s results for week one, reflecting the kids excitement of “something new”. What happened next was unexpected. Rather than the initial interest tailing off like it did with Wii, the combination of Xbox and Gamercize kept the kids playing, engaged and active throughout the entire study period.

The Wii data supported the loss of interest and lack of exercise critisims of active gaming, but Gamercize for Xbox did not suffer a lack of interest over time or a drop in physical activity. What can we conclude from this? As a physical activity intervention, Gamercize uses the attraction of videogames to keep the kids engaged and the patented Gamercize approach of minimal interaction kept the kids active the whole time.

Results of the Gamercize study have been presented at the European Child Obesity Group. Reference: Duncan, M. J., Birch, S., Woodfield, L., Hankey, J. (2010) An evaluation of a 5-week, school-based, exergaming intervention using the Gamercize power stepper on body mass index and physical activity during school lunch breaks in British primary school children. Proceedings of the 20th Annual Workshop of the European Child Obesity Group, Nov 17-20th, Brussels, Belgium.

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