Life Sciences 2007, a gathering of the Biochemical, British Pharmacological, and Physiological Societies in Glasgow, UK, will feature the results of a recent study on the potential and proven benefits of exergaming in the battle against obesity.
According to Dr. Alasdair Thin from the School of Life Sciences at Heriot-Watt University, exercising using videos games is a viable means to develop players' aerobic fitness as well as boost their confidence at trying other, more traditional exercising and sporting activities.
As part of his research, Dr. Thin researched 16 game players as they played games of Sony's EyeToy: Kinetic
, which uses the PlayStation camera to track player movement for use in numerous exercise routines.
The research include ten minute aerobic bouts with players playing EyeToy: Kinetic
's 'Cascade' mode, whilst those playing for three minutes at maximal exertion were playing the 'Sidewinder' mode. His findings concluded that virtual exercise was on par with more conventional exercise routines.
Other examples of exergames include titles in Konami's popular Dance Dance Revolution
(DDR) series, which require the player to get up and actively participate in the experience, rather than simply sit and use a conventional game controller.
The popularity of Konami's franchise in particular has found the game play a central role in other exergaming efforts, with the New York Times recently suggesting
that more than 1,500 schools will include the game in their exercise curriculum by the end of the decade.
Stated Dr. Thin, “We were interested in measuring the levels of exertion from an exercise physiology point of view and compared the average heart rate that each subject was exercising at to the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) recommended exercise heart rate range. Our findings reveal that playing these video games can provide an effective workout.”
“Further research is still needed into the long-term appeal of the game for players and the impact on exercise intensity as a player’s skill increases. However, as excessive video game playing is so often blamed for increased childhood obesity, our research reveals some very positive results for body-movement controlled gaming,” he concluded.