Exergaming can serve as introduction to increased physical activity

Working out doesn’t sound fun for everyone. But new active video and virtual reality games may help change that!

Lately, a new term is being used – exergaming, or active video gaming. According to the research of the University of Georgia, it may be the perfect introduction to helping people become more active.

The choice is so vast, that almost anyone can find an exergame to match their interests. Dance Revolution, EA Sports Active and Beat Saber are some of the more popular exergames. Active gaming options exist for most gaming consoles, like Xbox and Nintendo. And previous research has shown that exergaming can have physical benefits, particularly when it takes the place of traditional sedentary video gaming.

Exergaming can serve as introduction to increased physical activity

Published in the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, the study followed 55 people whose daily physical activity was below the recommended 150 minutes per week. Participants were randomly assigned to either exergame or participate in traditional aerobics classes three times a week for six weeks. Exergamers could choose from a variety of games including Just Dance, Kinect Sports and Zumba Fitness World Party over the course of the study.

The study measured physical activity and exertion during the exercise sessions with accelerometers, heart rate monitors and a scale that measures how hard participants believed they were working out. The researchers also used a variety of scales to assess participants’ enjoyment of their workouts and their motivation for working out, among other things.

The individuals assigned to the traditional classes worked out harder than their counterparts in the exergaming group. The supportive group environment of these types of classes has been shown to encourage people to give their all and holds them accountable for showing up.

But the exergamers had a better time. And that, coupled with a sense of ownership over their exercise routine, makes it more likely that they’ll keep it up and possibly be more open to other physical activity in the future.

Use video games to decrease sedentary time

But active video games and their positive health effects aren’t just for adults. Exergames are also an easy way for parents to increase their children’s physical activity, the researchers said. Children don’t see playing these games as an exercise, which just increases their interest.

“When you are buying games for your children or for yourself, try to buy games that have some activity in them,” Yli-Piipari said. “If you try to force your children to be active, they may do it because you’re telling them to. But the likelihood they continue to be active when you turn your back is low.”