Bringing exercise and games together has the benefit of bringing something healthy to the forefront but disguising it as something fun. Waste not want not. The Obesity Society study has shown the advantages of exergames for weight loss and psychological improvement in the young.
Exergames are defined as a video game that requires gross motor activity. This study was conducted over a 20 week period where 54 overweight African American kids were observed for weight loss and enhanced psychological outcomes.
All kids were recruited from a public high school and randomly assigned to either a competitive exergame, cooperative exergame, or control conditions.
Cooperative exergames encourage participants to work with a peer to expend calories and earn points together, whereas competitive exergame participants competed individually against a peer.
All exergame participants were encouraged to play the Nintendo Wii Active game for 30-60 minutes per school day in a lunch-time or after-school program.
Cooperative exergame participants worked with a peer to expend calories and earn points together, whereas competitive exergame participants competed against a peer. Sounds more like an outward bound adventure.
Control participants continued regular daily activities. Outcome measures included changes in weight, peer support, self-efficacy, and self-esteem, measured at baseline, after 10 weeks, and after 20 weeks.
Cooperative exergame players lost significantly more weight than the control group, which did not lose weight.
The competitive exergame players did not differ significantly from the other conditions. Cooperative exergame players also significantly increased in self-efficacy compared to the control group, and both exergame conditions significantly increased in peer support more than the control group.
Exergames, especially played cooperatively, can be an effective technological tool for weight loss among youth. First good news on X-box, now good news on Wii. In a loose translation – a little gaming never hurt anybody.
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