Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

Active Video Games Help Kids Burn Calories

Study Shows Kids With the Highest BMIs Enjoy ‘Exergames’ the Most

Indoor vs. Outdoor Play

Though exergames have the potential to get kids up and moving, they can pose a quandary for parents.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting the amount of time kids spend in front of a TV or computer screen to two hours daily.

But if kids are up and moving while they’re watching, does that count? And is it OK to let kids spend a nice day indoors as long as they’re playing Dance Dance Revolution?

“These are not a substitute for being outside, riding a bike, being on the soccer field,” says Kevin R. Short, PhD, assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

“If you’re going to let your kids watch TV or be on the computer for two hours, substituting at least a half hour or one hour of this time of active gaming would be a successful way to reduce the amount of sedentary time that they have,” says Short, who published a study on exergaming in Pediatrics in 2009.

Other experts agree.

“Spending time outdoors is the strongest correlate of physical activity among pre-school aged children, although this topic has not been well-studied with adolescents,” writes James F. Sallis, PhD, a psychologist at San Diego State University, in an editorial on the study.

And experts note that kids can be fickle and that their interest in exergames may wane over time, another reason why it’s probably not a good idea to substitute Wii soccer for the real thing.

“Active video games that require player movement should be thought of as a way to complement a whole menu of choices to get kids active,” says McInnis.

“The key is to help parents think of exergames as an alternative that offers variety rather than being a replacement for other forms of physical activity.”

1|2

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
 
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.
 

worried kid
fitArticle
boy on father's shoulder
Article
 
Child with red rash on cheeks
Slideshow
girl thinking
Article
 

babyapp
New
Child with adhd
Slideshow
 
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply