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Kids Not Active Enough? Try More Video Games, Study Says

Active video gaming revs up the heart rate, oxygen uptake, and energy expenditure in kids, says a new study published today in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Now, we’re not talking about sedentary video games, obviously. (Although it is pretty exciting when you finally get Voldemort in Lego Harry Potter.) So which games were studied?

A small study of schoolchildren in England examined the effects of Dance Central and Kinect Sports Boxing, two Kinect games for Xbox 360 that use a webcam-style sensor device and software technology, allowing the player to interact directly without the need for a game controller.

The study found that Dance Central increased energy expenditure by 150 percent, and Kinect Sports Boxing increased energy expenditure by 263 percent.

The study authors noted that low levels of physical activity have been linked to obesity. Active video game playing compared with traditional sedentary video game playing encourages more movement and could help children increase their physical activity levels, according to the study background.

“Significant increases were observed in heart rate, VO[oxygen uptake] and energy expenditure during all gaming conditions compared with both rest and sedentary game play,” the study authors commented.

“Although it is unlikely that active video game play can single-handedly provide the recommended amount of physical activity for children or expend the number of calories required to prevent or reverse the obesity epidemic, it appears from the results of this study that Kinect active game play can contribute to children’s physical activity levels and energy expenditure, at least in the short term,” the authors conclude.

Okay, so this seems pretty obvious, yes? Jumping up and down like a nutjob totally burns off my kids’ energy. At least when it’s centered around a video game, the jumping is limited to just one room of the house. When it’s too cold or rainy to go outside to play, our family does turn to Just Dance and the like. Even still, it’s nice to see this quantified, so that I can explain to my kids’ grandparents that their video game activity is scientifically proven to be beneficial.

Now if only someone could harness that all that energy output! These video game companies need to make some sort of kid-sized hamster wheel thing that would actually generate power. I bet we could power my whole neighborhood.

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto)

Read more from Joslyn at Babble Pets and at her blog, stark. raving. mad. mommy. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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