The results of a study released by the University of Calgary this week reveal that video games (exergames) may be as good as traditional physical education classes in keeping children physically fit. The research tested the effects of several video games that encourage users to jump and balance such as dance games, light walls and games that use the Wii's balance board.
After two years studying the effects of games on Calgary elementary school students, researchers found that these exergames improved balance by up to 30 percent. This was compared to conventional physical education that included traditional games like badminton. The results were comparable to a six-week Physical Education program that focused on improving agility and balance using dance, gymnastics, and obstacle courses.
"We don't believe what we're doing is trying to encourage kids to play video games," said researcher Larry Katz cautioned. "We think there is an obesity problem because of sedentary behaviour."
Instead of fighting against physical education programs, researchers see a serious opportunity to allow Phys. Ed teachers tools to better customize programs. This customization can help students improve their physical coordination and get them engaged in being physically fit.
"Kids are not missing school when it's exergame day," says PhD candidate Dwayne Sheehan.
Researchers plan further studies on the subject including measuring other physical improvements that could be achieved through exergames.
Source: Calgary Herald