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'Exergames' Can Actually Help Keep Kids in Shape, Study Finds

Looking for a legitimate excuse to play video games instead of going to the gym? Bill Bailey has it.

Bailey, a professor of Exercise Science at BYU, recently discovered that kids who play physically intensive video games can actually get enough exercise to meet federally recommended requirements for physical activity. In his study, Bailey examined 39 middle school-aged children, of various body types. Each subject played three commercial games and three consumer games, spending ten minutes in front of each, and five minutes resting.

His results suggest that playing active video games (or 'exergames') can help kids burn significant amounts of calories. On average, kids who played games like Wii Boxing, Dance Dance Revolution and Cyber Trazer burned between 4.0 and 6.7 calories per minute, with no significant variations across body types. By comparison, kids walking on a treadmill at 3 mph would burn about 4.4 calories per minute. The middle-schoolers even burned 1.1 calories per minute while resting between games.

Yet there are still some factors that can affect the physical benefits active games offer. Exergames that are more social or team-oriented could offer more enjoyment for players, which is an important element to any exercise routine. This could explain why kids playing a social game like Sportwall burned more calories per minute (6.2) than others during Bailey's experiment.

And different games, of course, demand different levels of physical intensity. A slow dance on DDR, for instance, won't burn as many calories as a bout on Wii Boxing. "Kids are smart," Bailey told Wired. "If they don't like moving around, they figure out the minimum movements required to play."

Tags: BYU, calories, exercise, Exergaming, gaming, kids, study, top, VideoGames, Wii, wii fit, WiiFit