Playing active video games can be good for your heart

16/02/2011

Playing active video games such as Wii sport and Wii fit can provide energy expenditures equal to moderate-intensity exercise, according to a new study, sponsored by Nintendo, the maker of the Wii.

According to the American Heart Association's exercise guidelines, light intensity exercise is less than 3 METs; moderate intensity is 3 to 6 METs; and vigorous activity is more than 6 METs. An adult walking at three miles per hour on a flat surface is expending about 3.3 METs. Adults gain the most health benefits when they do the equivalent of at least 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity each week.

Researchers used a metabolic chamber to measure the energy expenditure of 12 men and women, 25 to 44 years old, as they engaged in the basic moves involved in the games. They found that nine of the activities had less than 2 METs, 23 activities had 2–3 METs, nine had 3–4 METs, and five activities had more than 4 METs. The study found that about one-third of the virtual physical activities in the games require an energy expenditure of 3.0 METs or above, considered moderate-intensity exercise. METs are metabolic equivalent values, a standard method of estimating energy expenditure.

In the Wii sports package, boxing was the most effective activity to increase energy expenditure, at about 4.5 METs. Golf had a score of 2 METs, bowling 2.6 METs, and tennis and baseball were both associated with 3 METs.

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