Sunday, January 10, 2010

Games Might Provide Sufficient Exercise

Playing some video games at higher levels could be considered moderate physical activity.

By Karen Collins, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: Do active video games such as Wii count toward recommended amounts of physical activity?

A: Playing video games that involve movement and increase a player’s heart rate and breathing noticeably would be considered moderate physical activity. Moderate physical activity feels like you are exerting yourself to a rating of 5 or 6 on a scale of 0 to 10. Another sign of moderate-intensity activity is that you can talk but not sing.

Researchers are just beginning to objectively study the impact of active video games on overall level of physical activity and fitness, mostly among children and teens. Results are mixed, but a few studies suggest that games such as Wii boxing and Dance Dance Revolution played at skill level 2, do involve moderate activity.

Others, such as Wii bowling and golf and Dance Dance Revolution played at the lowest skill level involve lower levels of activity, though clearly a step up from the more sedentary activity of watching television.

Actually, the intensity of activity considered moderate for any individual depends on his or her level of fitness. So for some people whose sedentary lifestyle, illness or excess weight has led to a low level of fitness, even the less demanding video games involving whole body movement may actually be moderate activity.

Recommendations for lower cancer risk and better overall health advise us all to accumulate 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily; those who seek weight loss will get better results by working up to 60 minutes a day.

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