Objective To determine the relative effect of interactive digital exercise that features player movement (ie, exergames) on energy expenditure among children of various body mass indexes (BMIs; calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared).
Design Comparison study.
Setting GoKids Boston, a youth fitness research and training center located at University of Massachusetts, Boston.
Participants Thirty-nine boys and girls (mean [SD] age, 11.5 [2.0] years) recruited from local schools and after-school programs.
Main Exposure Six forms of exergaming as well as treadmill walking.
Main Outcome Measures In addition to treadmill walking at 3 miles per hour (to convert miles to kilometers, multiply by 1.6), energy expenditure of the following exergames were examined: Dance Dance Revolution, LightSpace (Bug Invasion), Nintendo Wii (Boxing), Cybex Trazer (Goalie Wars), Sportwall, and Xavix (J-Mat). Energy expenditure was measured using the CosMed K4B2 portable metabolic cart.
Results All forms of interactive gaming evaluated in our study increased energy expenditure above rest, with no between-group differences among normal (BMI < 85th percentile) and “at-risk” or overweight (BMI ≥ 85th percentile) children (P ≥ .05). Walking at 3 miles per hour resulted in a mean (SD) metabolic equivalent task value of 4.9 (0.7), whereas the intensity of exergaming resulted in mean (SD) metabolic equivalent task values of 4.2 (1.6) for Wii, 5.4 (1.8) for Dance Dance Revolution, 6.4 (1.6) for LightSpace, 7.0 (1.8) for Xavix, 5.9 (1.5) for Cybex Trazer, and 7.1 (1.7) for Sportwall. Enjoyment of the games was generally high but was highest for children with BMIs in the highest percentiles.
Conclusion All games used in our study elevated energy expenditure to moderate or vigorous intensity. Exergaming has the potential to increase physical activity and have a favorable influence on energy balance, and may be a viable alternative to traditional fitness activities for children of various BMI levels.