Can Playing Active Video Games Equal Moderate Intensity Exercise?
Wii sports™ video games and some Wii fit™ activities may
increase adults' energy expenditure as much as moderately intense
exercise, according to research presented at the American Heart
Association's Scientific Sessions 2009.
study, funded by Nintendo™, demonstrated that about one-third of
the virtual physical activities require an energy expenditure of 3.0
METs or above, considered moderate-intensity exercise. METs are
metabolic equivalent values, a standard method of estimating energy
The average intensities were distributed over a wide range from lotus focus, 1.3 METs, to single-arm stand, 5.6 METs.
used a metabolic chamber to measure the energy expenditure of 12 men
and women, 25 to 44 years old, as they pantomimed basic moves and
motions of these sports and physical activities with motion-sensing
controls. The open-circuit indirect metabolic chamber consisted of an
airtight room (20,000 liters or 15,000 liters). The metabolic chamber
method could replicate the conditions under which the participants
enjoy the games in their home, because they were free from apparatus
used to measure energy expenditure (EE) when playing the game.
expenditure is the most important information to measure the effect of
video games," said Motohiko Miyachi, Ph.D., lead author of the study
and Project Leader of Project for Physical Activity in the Health
Promotion and Exercise Program at the National Institute of Health and
Nutrition in Tokyo, Japan.
- Nine activities had less than 2 METs.
- Twenty-three activities had 2-3 METs.
- Nine activities had 3-4 METs.
- Five activities had more than 4 METs.
range of energy expenditure in these active games is sufficient to
prevent or to improve obesity and lifestyle-related disease, from heart
disease and diabetes to metabolic diseases," Miyachi said.
to the American Heart Association's exercise guidelines, light
intensity exercise is less than 3.0 METs; moderate intensity is 3.0 to
6.0 METs; and vigorous activity is more than 6 METs. An adult walking
at three miles per hour on a flat surface is expending about 3.3 METs.
Adults gain the most health benefits when they do the equivalent of at
least 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) of moderate intensity aerobic
physical activity each week. Regular physical activity reduces the risk
of many adverse health outcomes. Some physical activity is better than
sports™ are a collection of five simplified games based on
boxing, golf, tennis, bowling and baseball. Boxing is the most
effective activity to increase energy expenditure, about 4.5
METs,according to the study findings. Golf, bowling, tennis and
baseball are 2.0, 2.6, 3.0, and 3.0 METs, respectively.
fit™ includes yoga, resistance and strength training, balance and
aerobic exercises with more than 40 different activities, from push-ups
to torso twists to single leg extensions.
most effective exercise is the single-arm stand, 5.6 METs, regarded as
a difficult resistance exercise that involves standing up and lying
intensities of yoga and balance exercise were significantly lower than
those of resistance and aerobic exercise, but these exercises are
effective in improving flexibility and in fall prevention, researchers
and Japanese are increasingly overweight. About one-third of adults in
the United States are overweight and almost one-third are obese,
according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
and overweight is increasing in Japanese men," Miyachi said. "Twenty
years ago, only 20 percent Japanese middle-aged men were obese and
overweight, now it is more than 30 percent." Miyachi, who also plays
active video games, recommends these active games rather than sedentary
video games. The study's findings about energy expenditure apply to
Americans as well as Japanese and to younger and older people. An
estimated 63 million sets of Wii sports™ and Wii fit™ were
sold worldwide, Miyachi said.
Co-authors are K. Yamamoto, Ph.D.; K. Ohkawara, Ph.D.; and S. Tanaka, Ph.D.
For more information on the American Heart Association, visit www.americanheart.org.