How Active Is Active Gaming?

Active video games are becoming more popular with the release of each new game, but few studies have measured their effectiveness as an exercise tool. A new scientific paper published in the NSCA's Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared active and conventional joystick tennis games to the effort exerted by subjects engaged in on-court competition.

Ten young adults in their early 20s completed three trials. In randomized order, they played an old school round sitting on a couch in front of a monitor, an active on-your-feet variation requiring virtual serves and returns, followed by a real game of tennis. Heart rate and metabolic equivalents were assessed during each of the 20-minute sessions.

Reaching approximately 45% of the theoretical maximum heart rate, active gaming produced greater intensities than joystick gaming which only got these subjects up to 40% of max heart rate. Of course, neither game variation came close to the 65% max heart rate experienced during an actual match. Metabolic equivalents came in at 5 for on-court tennis, 1.4 for active gaming and 1.1 for the joystick video game.

True Strength Moment: If you take part in an introductory pilates class, you'll burn around of 105 to 131 calories in half an hour, reaching a metabolic equivalent of 3.5. Running at a 9-minute mile pace burns approximately 330-413 calories in 30-minutes, achieving a metabolic equivalent of 11. Researchers determined that neither gaming option was a good substitute for real physical exercise. Gaming can still serve as a fun way to pass the time while your muscles recover from a trip to the gym.
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