Do Video Games Really Count As Exercise?

Do Video Games Really Count As Exercise?

Yeah! I caught my Pikachu. Guess I got my exercise in for the day. Hey there gamers, Trace here for DNews. How are those weight loss resolutions holding
up in 2017? Are you still going to the gym, or have you
fallen victim to playing that new video game Santa gave you this year? OR even better, maybe you’re losing weight
while playing video games …maaaybe. I know, you hear all these inspiring stories
about shedding pounds through a few rounds of DDR, but can we really count walking around
the block a few times to catch a Squirtle as actual exercise? In case you missed it, this mobile phone game
came out last year that ticked off a lot of people, it’s called Pokemon Go, and it forces
players to physically move around in the real world to catch animals. Despite memes making fun of gamers finally
going outside and meeting daylight for the first time, there have been scientific studies
on walking around to catch Pokemon! One 2016 study published in The British Medical
Journal surveyed 1,182 participants between the age of 18-35 with an iPhone 6 (which would
track the steps each participant took). Players step counts were then compared before
and after the installation of Pokemon Go. Before they installed the game, participants
took an average of 4,256 steps per day… During the first week of gameplay this number
increased to 5,123 steps! Before, gradually, falling back down to even
less than the pre-Pokemon average around the 6 week marker, to only about 4,000 steps. Womp womp. Even if you took the peak number of steps
into account and assume these steps were taken at a pace of 4 km/h, which is the assumed
average in the study…that equals only 11 minutes a day of exercise, which is a small
increase. And since that increase didn’t stick, it’s
hard to claim that this video game provides a lot of additional exercise at all. By the way, there’s no set number of steps
you should take a day, but definitely aim for more than 5,000; 10,000’s even better. Now sure, that’s just walking. What about other games like Wii Fit, Nintendo’s
at-home exercise game? The Wii Fit was designed to be exercise, right? Well, it’s not, at least according to a study
conducted by the American Council on Exercise. In their study, participants first used a
treadmill while both their breathing and heart rate were monitored – this was their fitness
baseline. Then, they played what the researchers decided
were the “most aerobically challenging” Wii Fit games, all the while still having
their oxygen and heart rates monitored. After comparing the baseline to the Wii Fit
games, they found that the running-based games most resembled actual exercise, burning about
5.5 food calories (5.5kcal) per minute. But in order to compare to running on the
treadmill, they would have to burn 10 food calories per minute – give or take, depending
on your actual weight. Bottomline? The Wii Fit still is still isn’t as good
for you as actual exercise. The thing is, even though it’s not marketed
as exercise, there may be a game that counts. And if you play it, you know what I’m talking
about. According to a study in the Cardiopulmonary
Physical Therapy Journal – Dance Dance Revolution is totally exercise. DDR. The game requires players to sync movements
to music and follow along stomping on pads, spinning and… well… dancing! Resarchers instructed study participants to
play for 30 minutes 3 times a week. At the end of the study, results showed an
average BMI decrease of about 2% for women and 7% for men – and that was only after
6 weeks! I know BMI isn’t the perfect measurement,
but it’s something! The CDC recommends at least 75 minutes of
“vigorous-intensity aerobic activity” a week, so it makes sense that this would
work as exercise, because participants did more than that. We should mention that this is only aerobic
exercise. The CDC also recommends muscle-strengthening
exercise at least 2 days a week. But come on, DDR came out in 1998. What’s in store for 2017? Two words: virtual reality. Of course. The Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology
published a study showing weight loss from female participants after they watched avatars
of themselves in virtual reality practicing healthy lifestyles like walking on a treadmill
or eating smaller portions in the virtual worlds. Apparently, simply watching their VR selves
be healthy, inspired them to be healthier too. And that’s just the beginning. At the 2016 Virtual Reality Summer Expo companies
like Blue Goji designed controllers to be strapped to your elliptical device, which
are then synced with your VR headset. And on top of that, there are even VR headsets
which make exercise less horrible. Do not tell me to go to that dance bicycle
stuff, I rather bike in VR. So are videos games really exercise? Mostly not, at least right now, but that answer
depends on what you play. DDR and VR games (with extensive equipment)
will increase your heartrate which is great, but are those truly video games…or more
just an exercise routine disguised as a video game? Something to think about as you walk around
trying to find that elusive Dragonite. And exercise doesn’t just help your body,
it also helps your brain. For example, in this video we tell you how
exercise can improve your memory. Let us know down in the comments if you played
any of these games and what you thought about them and thanks for watching DNews.

1 comment on “Do Video Games Really Count As Exercise?

  1. Urban Humphrey Post author

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