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Video Games and Fitness

By Julie Davidson
Medically reviewed by Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH

Summer is here, and most kids are happy to say goodbye to school for a couple months. There are kind of ways for kids to keep busy, including camp, soccer leagues, and tennis and swim lessons.  But what about the kids who are the gamer types?

There’s been a lot of talk that video games inhibit a kid’s ability to be physically active.  Now researchers from Auckland University in New Zealand found that playing interactive video games can actually help kids get in shape. The study found that video games that involve leaping or swinging the arms can help control the weight of obese children.

Researchers looked at 320 kids, who were 10 to 14 years old, and determined that the physical movement the kids performed while playing PlayStation 3 had a small but measurable effect on the body mass index of the kids. The researchers concluded the children who played games that involved dancing, tennis, and boxing gained weight more slowly than the kids who played games that required less movement.

Dr. Ralph Maddison, who headed up the New Zealand study, said, “Parents may have more success encouraging the substitution of sedentary video games with more active ones, instead of trying to stop children and young people from gaming altogether.”

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